Gauteng government paid celebs R3m to host virtual events during lockdown
Johannesburg – The Gauteng Sports Department has detailed how they paid celebrities and musicians over R3 million to host virtual events.
Questions on how the Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Department spent R3 million of their R14m budget on events were asked by the DA in the provincial legislature in July.
In answering the questions, MEC Mbali Hlophe detailed how celebrities, DJs and other personalities were paid to host online commemorative events for Human Rights Day and Freedom Day.
Hlophe said the department spent less than what was budgeted for. The department spent R2m on Human Rights Day and over R800 000 was channelled to Freedom Day virtual celebrations.
In her answers, she said gospel singer Khaya Mthethwa was paid R42 550; singer Ntando received R37 950 for Freedom Day events.
Other people paid for the gig include vocalist Thabsie who received R29 000.
For Human Rights Day celebrations, DJ Lulo Cafe, Melanie Bala and DJ Naves each received R10 000.
Hlophe didn’t list how much was spent for Youth Day commemorations because of delayed payments.
“However, all details will be submitted accordingly. Safe to say that with all the national days the expenses paid are far less than what was budgeted, as major logistical cost drivers were eliminated by going virtual,” Hlophe said.
She also responded to complaints that local artists were sidelined when the department partnered with American pay television channel Nickelodeon, American dancer Jojo Siwa and Nigerian singer Davido for the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.
In her legislature response to the DA, Hlophe said Davido was paid by Viacom CBS and BET channel.
“The department partnered with the National Arts and Culture and Viacom CBS, a BET channel, which is a global network with a great footprint in the continent. The department supplied local artists and developed artists as part of our continued relief campaign and job creation opportunities.”
The DA’s Kingsol Chabalala criticised Hlophe’s leadership.
“This clearly demonstrates how clueless MEC is when it comes to issues that are affecting the sports, arts and culture loving community in the province,” he said.
Chabalala added that the department had failed to prioritise issues in accordance with their importance.
“They always throw money in a bottomless pit of unnecessary events that do not add value to the grassroots development of sports, arts and culture.”
In August, The Star sent enquiries about how the rest of the department budget was spent. Hlophe’s spokesperson Nomazwe Ntlokwana promised to respond and to schedule an interview with Hlophe. None have so far materialised.