Uproar as minister names and shames athletes and artists over Covid relief funds

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Gayton McKenzie has released the list of at least 4 000 Covid-19 relief funds beneficiaries. Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Gayton McKenzie has released the list of at least 4 000 Covid-19 relief funds beneficiaries. Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 11, 2024


Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture Gayton McKenzie has come under fire after releasing a list of at least 4 000 beneficiaries from the 2020 Covid-19 relief funds, following a public promise to name and shame them.

The EFF, the ANC Youth League, and the Creative and Cultural Industry Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) are among the groups that have denounced McKenzie for dehumanising local athletes and artists in public regarding the assistance grant.

It is no secret that the majority of artists lamented their predicament, particularly in light of the pandemic’s recognised restrictions on public meetings.

Considering most artists needed physical venues to display their work, it was impractical for most of them to make ends meet due to the lockdown.

The latest statement from the department has also been lambasted for being inept and neglecting to address the real problems.

The ANCYL said it was unacceptable for the department to undermine its intended support for creatives and artists, highlighting that its role is to foster a supportive environment for creatives and artists.

“The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) condemns the recent disgraceful actions and statements made by the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture under the questionable leadership of Minister Gayton McKenzie.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for a department that should be the stronghold of support for our nation’s creatives, artists, and dedicated superfans to instead engage in actions that lower and undermine those it is supposed to uplift.

“The Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture’s primary role is to create a nurturing environment for our creatives and artists, offering them the support they need to excel. This includes recognising and celebrating superfans, like Mama Joy Chauke, who passionately support our national teams.

“Mama Joy Chauke was notably honoured as the fan of the tournament during the final Springboks vs New Zealand match in Paris Saint Denis, where she had the opportunity to address the world as a proud South African superfan, proclaiming, ‘My Country, my Pride’.

“Creatives and artists play a crucial role in nation-building, economic growth, and development. They contribute to the cultural richness of our society and are vital to our national identity.

“Support should be provided by the department to all deserving creatives, artists, and superfans, ensuring they are uplifted and celebrated rather than shamed and embarrassed,” the Youth League said.

Following a social media uproar, Makhadzi, whose name is on the list shared publicly, released a statement disclosing that she had not asked for nor received financing from the department in the previous 14 months.

“Makhadzi wishes to give clarity and correct misleading information provided by the National Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture in a statement released to the media and the public on Tuesday, 9 July 2024.

“She would like to categorically state clearly that she has never received or applied for any funding from DSAC in the past 14 months, as stated in the statement.

“We can confirm that the department contacted Makhadzi to perform for the June 16 event and Presidential Inauguration, which she did (rendered a service), and the department paid her; that is not funding but a payment for service rendered.

“The statement from the department is creating a lot of confusion from the heading to the last paragraph and seeks to give the impression that Makhadzi is one of the recipients and it is now being published as stated by the Minister, Mr Gayton McKenzie.

“Makhadzi is not a recipient, and the department should release the list and stop diverting attention.”

In defending Makhadzi, the EFF has slammed the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) for victimising the BET award winning Makhadzi.

“Instead of addressing their stance on official supporters, the department chose to deflect by disclosing the amounts of money they paid to Makhadzi for her performances and appearances.

“This attempt to portray these payments as as a form of support is both disingenuous and reprehensible.

“The payments made to Makhadzi were for professional services rendered, not gratuitous support.

“To insinuate otherwise is to undermine her achievements and hard work. The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture should focus on addressing the numerous instances of mismanagement and corruption within their purview, particularly by top politicians, rather than targeting a successful black woman who has brought pride to our nation,” the EFF said.

Joy Mbewana, the president of the Creative and Cultural Industry Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), chastised the minister on Wednesday in an interview with The Star for exposing artists to the public.

“Look, there are a lot of artists who are on that list who keep on saying they never received anything from the government.

“These are the same people who are the loudest when they see someone receive money from the government. We are thankful to the government for helping artists during such a difficult time of the pandemic.

“We welcome what the government did; however, I am not sure what publishing the name of artists and athletes serves, as this is like giving someone a food parcel, then you take a picture so that everyone can see what you have just done for them.

“We are also interested in finding out which libraries and institutions are being funded by the department and those who received tenders from the government and the department,” she said.

Responding to The Star, music activist Tebogo Sithathu said his heart crashed when he did not see big-name artists and those deserving not being on the list.

“With my experience of many years both as an artist and a leader, I do not see names of great artists who were well-deserving of the Covid-19 relief fund. Unfortunately, I only see a lot of cronies and puppets dominating the list,” he said.

The same sentiment was echoed by former 999 label manager, Brian Mokoena, who said: “Some of the names on that list were not deserving. People are just greedy, truly speaking.

“After taking millions of projects from government across the country, they still went for the paltry R20k. Sies man,” he said.

Most of the well-known artists and athletes on the list received between R10 000 and R20 000, while others received R53 000 and others as high as R75 000, which comes up to just more than R72 million in total.

It is unclear what criteria the department used to determine whether to award an artist, creative or sports star, varying amounts between the R2 000 and R75 000.

McKenzie said he was publishing the list for the sake of transparency and said there were really good well meaning people who received the funds.

He also said the list was not a shame list, but he wanted to dispel the notion that the DSAC did not support artists.

The Star

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