Pretoria - Artists desperate for much-needed assistance amid the Covid-19 pandemic are willing to continue their “camp-out” at the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in Pretoria, until someone listens to their pleas.
The handful of artists, who have been camping outside the department’s offices in Pretoria from December 7, said they were unhappy with the department’s operations and slow services, especially considering how there struggle to stay afloat during the pandemic was known.
Gospel and maskandi artist Mqondisi Ntshangase, who is among the protesters, said although many artists had applied for some form of relief or funding from the department, given that they could not ply their trade, they were still not receiving any communication on the reasons for the delay in assistance.
Ntshangase said many artists believed the department was not fulfilling its mandate, hence the continued call for the resignation of Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
“It’s been a living nightmare for artists in this country since this pandemic started, as many of us can no longer host gigs, and we’re struggling to get access to the platforms and gadgets needed to perform and earn a living.
“All we want is to be assisted, and if the department can’t do that they might as well collapse the whole department and rebuild it to give us people who will help us. We’re pleading with the presidency to remove Nathi Mthethwa and give us a minister of action and accountability.”
This is not the first time artists have camped outside the department. In October opera singer Sibongile Mngoma and other artists descended on the offices, to begin the call for Mthethwa’s removal.
At the time, Mngoma and the others spent a number of days camping outside the department in protest against what they said was ill-treatment of artists by the ministry.
“We are struggling to get attention from a department that has been ignoring us for 19 months. We are trying to make sure that the plight of artists continues to be highlighted,” she said.
In May a member of kwaito group Trompies, Eugene Mthethwa, also spoke out about the disregard for the lives of artists by the department during a radio interview. The artist and producer said his biggest gripe with the government was that it did not appear to be concerned with preserving artists’ lives, and only saw them as important when they died.
“We should be talking about the preservation of life, but we only see politicians and become important to them when we die. When we’re still alive foreign content and artists are more important and given proper treatment in our country whereas we remain unseen.”
The department had, by yesterday, said nothing in response to questions about the artists’ camp and their accusations, and their calls for the removal of the minister.