Artists step up calls for Mthethwa to resign over NAC handling of COVID-19 funds

The National Arts Council (NAC) has been at the centre of the debacle after funds from a R300 million stimulus programme, meant to assist creatives to make ends meet during the pandemic, weren’t paid.

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa at a media briefing on the coronavirus on 25 March 2020 in Pretoria. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Artists have stepped up the pressure for Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to resign, with some performers arguing that the National Arts Council (NAC) had missed its own deadline to pay COVID-19 relief funds.

The council has been at the centre of the debacle after funds from a R300 million stimulus programme, meant to assist creatives to make ends meet during the pandemic, weren’t paid.

The council promised to hold up its end of the bargain to pay funds on Wednesday.

READ: Artists take National Arts Council to court over alleged maladministration

Two senior officials have since been suspended pending an investigation into the mismanagement of the money.

"So they're channeling the money out that's supposed to go to artists that's going where? That's the question. Where is this money going? What's their job? What should they be doing differently? Their jobs. They should be doing their jobs not making a mess because this is a mess."

READ MORE: 'We're tired of being forgotten’ – WC artist perform in protest over NAC funding

Sibongile Mngoma, an opera singer who should be on stage, under the lights, singing, is instead spearheading a month-long sit-in at the National Arts Council's offices in Newton, Johannesburg.

Mngoma said that she, like many others, were going nowhere until their demands were met.

"It's open season because everyone can mess around with the artist because there's no regulation, there's no policy... even the policies that have been put on their table, they are still not signing off on that. I think they're afraid of what would happen if artists were given their proper place."

Several organisations have since approached the Western Cape High Court to compel the NAC to pay the funds owed to them.

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