Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Gayton McKenzie, releases Covid-19 beneficiary list for complete transparency

Department of Sport, Arts & Culture Minister Gayton McKenzie. Picture: Instagram.

Department of Sport, Arts & Culture Minister Gayton McKenzie. Picture: Instagram.

Published Jul 10, 2024


LESS than a month in office and the new Minister Gayton McKenzie has already started to shake things up at his department.

McKenzie has been extremely vocal since coming into office, making sure that everyone knows that he is prepared to weed out corruption in the government’s National Department of Sport, Arts and Culture department and establish black-and-white rules and regulations.

In a response to a concern expressed by a social media user on X, the minister wrote, “ ... without giving away much, allow me to say that it will be business unusual. I am horrified already at my initial observations which I will fix. I will soon share my plans. A change is coming for sure.”

Changes are coming quick and fast to the arts and culture sector, with the recent release of a Covid-19 grant beneficiary list.

The minister instructed his department to release the list after learning that artists were complaining about government not funding them.

It started when BET award-winner Makhadzi recently shared with podcaster MacG that she had to borrow money from a loan shark to attend the BET Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Makhadzi added that the South African government had never funded her.

With this in mind, McKenzie wrote on X, “If you did nothing wrong or didn’t benefit untowardly you have no reason to fear. I have given a clear instruction that the public be made aware of the people that got funding, today! I was shocked when I realised how many complaining artists are receiving money from DSAC.”

On Wednesday, the list was made available online to the public.

It shows the names of 3 962 artists who received funding totalling over R72 million.

Most of the beneficiaries collected between R10k and R20k, but there were a few names on the list that collected R50k and over.

It turns out that Makhadzi’s name was not on the list for funding.

Other recipients included What Am I To Do hitmaker Tamara Dey, veteran musician and producer, Arthur Mafokate, composer and musician, Caiphus Semenya, stage actress, Cara Roberts, and about 19 theatre houses, including Cape Town City Ballet.

There are still two more funding lists to be made public soon.

McKenzie also dedicated his first salary payment as minister to the Backyard Art Gallery Restaurant in Kagiso, showing his support for the arts.

“I have instructed lawyers to pay over my first salary to this gallery and the money should be shared by this 3 tremendous artist. I sat with artist and listened to their many problems whilst waiting until the money is on their different accounts. I saw gratitude mixed with tears,” he wrote in an X thread.

Soon after he made a serious move to curb wasteful expenditure.

He took to X to announce that he had instructed his department to stop paying for trips for super fans.

“I have stopped all trips for super fans. We have athletes & artist who are struggling to raise money to attend sporting events and exhibitions, how do we justify paying for fans? We shall no longer be paying for these trips and will use that money where it’s needed the most.”

This decision drew mixed reactions.

Whether publishing the beneficiary list was a brave or foolish move, McKenzie has shown that he is serious about transparency within his portfolio, thereby earning the trust of his people.

His actions are aimed at bringing about change in an industry that has been neglected for far to long.