McKenzie to publish list of funding given to artists

The decision by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to publish the names and amounts given to South African artists has received support from some corners of music industry. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

The decision by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to publish the names and amounts given to South African artists has received support from some corners of music industry. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 8, 2024


The decision by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to publish the names and amounts given to South African artists has received support from some corners of the South African music and arts industries.

On Monday, newly appointed Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture Gayton McKenzie took a drastic step towards ensuring transparency with the funds allocated to his department by Treasury when he announced that the department will start accounting for what happens to its funds.

This comes after he announced plans to publish a comprehensive list of individuals and entities receiving financial support from his department.

“I have given an instruction that a list be published of all artists, creatives and sportspeople who have been receiving money from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture be published inclusive of amounts and reasons. The time where only a select connected few benefit is over,” the minister said on X.

According to McKenzie, this list will include the amounts disbursed and specific reasons for the funding.

Professionals, individuals and leaders within the South African music industry, indicated that the minister’s decision is a step in the right direction considering that these are public funds as this will ensure that government support benefits a wider range of recipients.

Vusi Leeuw, the president of the South African Music Industry Council (Samic), said the minister should be given a chance to lead and make his contribution to the country’s sports and arts sector.

“We must give Minister Gayton McKenzie a chance. We must allow him to make pronouncements, and in the end, the sector will make its own input, and we can together fashion a department that takes care of the artists, especially in under-serviced provinces. We are looking forward to constant engagements. His energy and gutsy determination is what we need,” he said.

Former label manager at 999 Music, Brian Mokoena, said he fully supports the minister’s call for transparency, adding that his efforts for the department to reveal its allocation of funds for the Mzansi Golden Economy were thwarted by the department.

“I fully agree with the minister on this as the monies of that department belong to the taxpayers and we need full accountability. In fact I had requested the previous admin to even give the names of the Mzansi Golden Economy success applications but they refused,” Mokoena told “The Star”.

Another music industry activist, who is also a member of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party, Tebogo Sithathu, said he too supports McKenzie in his bid to ensure transparency of funds allocated to artists.

“I support this call by the new minister, it’s about time we deal with cronyism in this country across all departments and ministries. Some of us as creative practitioners we have to have been blacklisted by these ANC ministers and MECs and our biggest crime is that we left the ANC for MK. It’s insane, when you are in government you’re supposed to serve all citizens irrespective of their political affiliation,” he said.

President of the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), Joy Mbewana, said the federation has seen the minister’s announcement and would love for the minister to consult the sector to make the industry aware of his pronouncement.

“We have seen the announcement. The only concern the industry might have is that the minister has to consult with the sector before taking certain decisions. What are happy to see the minister being excited about dealing with issues of corruption. If the intention is to fight corruption, he would have to consult because his decision to publish names involves people’s lives and their organisations.

“However, as a federation, we do not have a problem. In our experience with the National Arts Council (NAC), where people were funded and an artist is hired by a funded company, the artist after realising how much the organisation was given in funding started to demand more from the funded organisation, which made event companies and promoters finding it hard to continue their work. This created animosity between artists and funded organisations,” she said.

In May this year, former arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa denied accusations made by the South African Roadies Association (Sara) that he protects friends in his appointment of board members of the National Arts Council (NAC).

The NAC is an arts and culture subsidiary of the government, managed in the office of the minister.

This was after “The Star” reported on allegations by Sara president Freddie Nyathela on Kodwa’s alleged disregard of the law by appointing “friends” in the office.

Nyathela told “The Star”, with papers, that Kodwa had unlawfully appointed the NAC leadership by disregarding rule section 4(2) of the NAC Act 56 of 1997.

Nyathela had initially claimed that council members at the NAC had been illegally appointed because they were the minister’s friends and benefited financially every month.

Nyathela further said he had written to the minister’s office to make the department aware of the unlawful conduct that has fallen on deaf ears.

Previously, “The Star” also reported that Sara had hauled the NAC to court over disagreement of the funding body’s refusal to fully comply with the remedial actions recommended by former public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane regarding expired projects and the surplus funds policy.

However, Kodwa’s spokesperson, Litha Mpondwana, responding to the article, dismissed Nyathela’s allegations as false.

“The ministry rejects as totally false and without foundation the claims made by Mr Nyathela. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has provided comprehensive responses to Sara and Mr Nyathela’s queries. The department is engaging with the legal query of Mr Nyathela pertaining to the NAC, and will not be litigating such in the media.

“Mr Nyathela knows the right channels in which to get information from the department. The department’s position on this matter remains unchanged,” Mpondwana said at the time.

The Star