Time for Mthethwa and NAC to resign – Tsepo Mhlongo

DA MP says minister’s poor handling of Covid-19 pandemic in industry shows he knows next to nothing about sector

Time for Minister Mthethwa and NAC to resign

15 March 2021

It is time for the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, and the members of the National Arts Council (NAC) to resign.

By not attending a meeting with relevant stakeholders in the arts and culture sector last night and sending his subordinates instead, the minister has proven once and for all that he is simply occupying that seat in order to receive his substantial salary every month and not because he cares about the sector or those artists who have lost their livelihoods during lockdown.

The minister’s recent tweets and his poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the industry shows he knows next to nothing about the sector and has done nothing in the nearly 8 years he has presided over the arts and culture department to remedy the situation.

Minster Mthethwa is not interested ensuring the future of the industry, because he has no interest in the industry itself. If he did, he would surely do everything in his power to ensure its survival.

But not only did he refuse to attend a meeting with the sector, and routinely misses meetings with the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture, he failed to ensure that the NAC distribute Covid-19 relief funding fairly and without favour.

He failed to secure the little funding made available to the sector from corruption and exploit. He did not step in when there were complaints that there was not enough time to submit documentation for applications or that the process was unfair and exclusionary. The minister, his Department and the NAC have in fact failed every single Covid test laid before them.

The NAC and the minister have also yet to engage with artists staging a sit-in at the NAC offices in Johannesburg, resulting from the Council trying to break contracts with artists who were to receive funding from a R300 million Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) relief fund for various projects, of which many have already commenced.

The NAC refuses to provide clarity on the beneficiaries of this funding and is now trying to force artists to sign new contracts, which will impact further contracts of commenced projects.

Neither the minister nor the NAC seem to be equipped to address the concerns of the sector they’re meant to serve and should therefore not be in those positions of power. It’s time the Minister resigned, and should he refuse, as he surely would, it’s time President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him with someone capable and caring.

Issued byTsepo Mhlongo,DA Shadow Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, 15 March 2021