Wednesday, January 26

The National Council of the Arts mismanaged the R300m aimed at supporting artists: report


A forensic investigation has revealed that three former and two current members of the National Arts Council (NAC) have been found guilty of ‘committing’ around R630 million in funding as part of Covid-19 financial support for artists, despite the Presidential Employment Stimulus Program. (Pesp) only allocates a budget of R300 million for the initiative.

This was confirmed on Monday during a press conference by the Minister of Sport, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa.

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Mthethwa now wants answers from the five unidentified members of the NAC implicated in the mismanagement of funds intended to help artists and boost the creative economy.

Read: Job creation through art

The investigation began in July after the creative sector reported multiple allegations of mismanagement of the Pesp fund.

Mthethwa said the investigation found cases of wrongdoing, mismanagement, overcommitment of funds, and mismanagement.

While the Pesp fund allocated R300 million for the initiative, 5% of this was intended to be retained by the NAC for administrative purposes. The balance of R285 million for project finance was divided into two streams: the first group was allocated R85 million for job retention and the second group was allocated R200 million for job creation. job.

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The minister noted that the forensic report presented to him last week by the NAC had identified a myriad of challenges including:

  • Applicants approved and hired to obtain more funds than they applied for;
  • More than 55% of approved beneficiaries do not receive funds; and
  • The NAC approves more beneficiaries than budgeted.

“The forensic report found that certain individuals, including senior management, staff, judges and former NAC council members have been the main actors and culprits in this,” Mthethwa said.

“We cannot, as a government, be to blame for not taking care of artists when we use resources and funds for them and someone else decides to mismanage the funds. Every single penny of the 285 million rand should go to the artists and will go to the artists, ”he promised.

“We are reiterating that without any fear or favor, we will combat any mismanagement of government funds, especially given the difficult economic climate we find ourselves in,” added Mthethwa.

Nathi Mthethwa says the council is in the process of instituting disciplinary hearings against the officials involved. Image: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

The minister has instructed the council to implement the recommendations of the forensic report. One of the recommendations includes making sure that funds that have been improperly given to people are recovered.

Read: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an increase in hunger in South Africa

NAC President Princess Celenhle Dlamini said investigators uncovered several administrative flaws associated with the Pesp program, such as a lack of adequate resources for the Pesp project with competent staff.

“Another administrative failure is related to the lack of adequate supervision and review processes that resulted in the approval of projects that did not meet the requirements, non-compliance with the deadlines for the delivery of the Pesp and lack of management and monitoring of the process”, said.

However, Dlamini noted that despite the administrative challenges of the program, R272 million has been distributed to artists and organizations, constituting 96% of the total distribution of all Pesp funds and the remaining balance (4%) still is being distributed.

He did not comment on how the council would handle the issue of “overcommitted” funds.

Mthethwa said the council is in the process of instituting disciplinary hearings against the officials involved.

* Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.


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