South Africa: Arts Refutes Media Claims

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has denied allegations made by the City Press on how it manages public funds.

The newspaper reported on questionable funding deals, amounting to more than R100 million at the department, led by Minister Nathi Mthethwa, for the 2018/2019 funding period.

"The article is both misleading and mischievous to the South African public on how the department is managing public funds, as the department has received unqualified audits for the past five years by the Auditor General," the department said in a statement.

The department expressed its disappointed at the article.

"The article was written and published with the malicious intention to taint the name of the department and that of Minister Nathi Mthethwa," the department said.

Furthermore, the department vehemently rejects the notion and assertion that the "Venture Capital Fund" (VCF) should have gone through the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) process.

"This funding vehicle was a new, innovative initiative established through a consultative process with National Treasury, hence it was done through a public tender process and awarded to the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) after a competitive bidding process.

"The VCF was established to offer loans to the creative industry and focus on the commercial side of their business where interest is charged on every disbursement of funds. Whereas MGE is mainly for grant funding, therefore the VCF process did not go through the normal MGE funding procedures," the department said.

The internationally-acclaimed 2018 movie, "Sew The Winter To My Skin" is the most successful beneficiary of this fund to date.

The department received 26 proposals that were reviewed by the special Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC), which was appointed by the Accounting Officer.

The BAC panel members were appointed based on the expertise required for the establishment of the VCF.

"On the allegation of private attorneys being paid R3 million for working with the Living Legends Legacy Project (LLLP), the department finds this peddling of lies very unfortunate.

"City Press was provided with a response that no money had been paid to any private lawyers who are assisting LLLP in a case against Welcome Msomi. In fact, it was Minister Mthethwa himself who - upon being aware of the allegation - directed Director-General Vusi Mkhize to meet with the Living Legends and advise them to open a case and also inform the rest of the Legends about these shocking developments," the department said.

On the allegation that Ladysmith Black Mambazo was allocated R36 million over three years by the department, the department said the group submitted a proposal that had nothing to do with the allegation made by City Press that it was for an album recording with former President Jacob Zuma.

"This is clearly a fishing expedition, as initially it was reported that this album was to be funded by the EThekwini Municipality. We are shocked that now City Press has new knowledge contrary to what was initially reported in the news," the department said.

The department denied the claims that it funded Linda Sibiya's "Spirit of Praise". The department communicated this to the newspaper in its responses.

"The allegation made by the newspaper that files, including that of Zanele Mbokazi, have gone missing is news to the department. According to our knowledge, the files are in our offices, unless the alleged sources have unlawfully removed them without the department's knowledge," the department said.

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