SA artists unite in solidarity behind those demanding answers from the National Arts Council (NAC), earlier this year. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)
SA artists unite in solidarity behind those demanding answers from the National Arts Council (NAC), earlier this year. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

National Arts Council CEO, CFO are charged for ʹmismanagingʹ funds meant for struggling artists

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Nov 14, 2021

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THE chief executive of the National Arts Council (NAC) Rosemary Mangope has been charged, along with chief financial officer Clifton Changfoot, following the release of an independent forensic investigation into the alleged mismanagement of funds that were meant to help struggling artists during the lockdown.

The report, commissioned by the government, revealed maladministration and mismanagement in implementing the R300 million Presidential Employment Stimulus Package (PESP) that was announced following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year.

The NAC released the final and adopted Mazars Forensic Report this weekend.

After the government announced the PESP for artists, it later emerged that some of the funds had allegedly been misappropriated. A probe was launched to establish how the relief money was irregularly distributed to various beneficiaries.

Some of the findings revealed in the final report, include several irregularities pertaining to the management of the PESP.

The investigation found financial mismanagement, process irregularities and lack of adequate oversight.

However, there are no missing funds from the PESP, as all funds have been accounted for at the NAC.

The newly appointed council members, who took office at the start of this year, were all cleared of any wrongdoing, as the report confirmed the findings of the State Attorneys, stating that those members whose organisations had applied for the PESP could not have been conflicted, as they had not commenced their appointment at the NAC at the time of applying and completion of adjudication.

The report, however, did identify conflicts of interest in respect of some former council members, who participated in the PESP processes but had failed to declare their directorship in companies that applied to the PESP.

“The report stated that former council members had ʹdisregarded’ their own resolution of September 19, 2020 by allowing five council members to actively participate in the evaluation of applications.”

The five former council members were cumulatively paid R511 452 for performing work of independent panel members. These payments were regarded as irregular expenditure as these council members contravened the provisions of the NAC Act.

The report further found that there was failure to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent irregularities in the adjudication process, including irregular spending.

There was also failure to provide financial oversight regarding the implementation of the PESP within the allocated budget of R285 million, resulting in an over-commitment amount of R428 073 778 – which is more than double the allocated budget.

In a media statement issued on Saturday, the NAC acknowledged and thanked Theo Lawrence for leading the small group of panel members, who raised the alarm to some of the maladministration practices identified in the report.

“It was his letter to the National Arts Council and Minister Mthethwa that gave rise to the newly appointed council to closely look at what was occurring within the PESP programme. His brave actions led to the council having to review some of the decisions that had been taken with regard to the PESP,” said NAC marketing and communications manager, Thola Phetla.

She said the NAC would provide updates on the implementation of the recommendations of the forensic report, where necessary.

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Political Bureau

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