Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa is expected to meet stakeholders in the arts and culture sector today to find solutions as scores of artists missed out on benefiting from the R150million relief fund.
“The minister is to meet stakeholders tomorrow as we map the way forward. We will have discussions and receive advice,” Deputy Minister Nocawe Mafu said.
Mafu made the statement when she and director-general Vusi Mkhize briefed members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday.
During the meeting, the MPs raised concerns with a large number of applications that were declined and the short time provided for applications.
Among reasons given for the decline were missing documents and the criteria not being met.
In his presentation to a joint meeting of parliamentary committees, Mkhize said individual athletes, artists, technical personnel, and others were afforded an opportunity to apply for relief between April 2 and 6.
“Registered businesses and their employees were not eligible to apply for this relief. They have the option of exploring other relief interventions available to business and labour,” he said.
Mkhize said 473 applications were received from 25 sports bodies and 292 were approved.
A total of 16 were conditionally approved and 165 were declined for not meeting the set criteria.
“Quality assurance is still taking place of those that were declined to ensure that no errors were made.”
Mkhize said of those that had been approved, 93 have been paid.
“Funds are being paid directly into the bank accounts of the applicants. Decline letters were sent to applicants via federations.”
In terms of artists, he said 1050 applications were adjudicated.
“In all, 603 applications have been rejected while 232 applications were recommended,” Mkhize said, adding that payments started on May 2 to successful applicants.
MPs raised concerns with the short period for the application which was effectively two working days and possible double-dipping by beneficiaries as provinces also have similar relief schemes.
Mafu agreed that the time allowed for applications was too short and that they would make an effort to accommodate those who did not meet the deadline.
She also said the number of rejected applications was too large.
Mkhize, however, defended the short time provided for applications.
He said it was due to extraordinary circumstances to speed up relief to the beneficiaries.
“There is no deliberate intention or malice. That would be self-defeating and we are not paying lip service,” he said about suggestions of wanting to keep some of the relief funds.
Mafu said they were reaching out to as many artists and athletes to offer them relief from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said there was an agreed process with MECs to curb instances of beneficiaries benefiting from both the national department and provinces.
“There will be artists who don’t have a national reach that can apply to provinces. Those who missed out at the national level can turn to the provinces,” Mafu said.
“We agreed to share lists and information to see that no one benefits twice,” she added.