South Africa: sport, arts and culture respond to Star newspaper article

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On Tuesday, October 5, 2021, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) noted an article titled “Mbuli slams Ramaphosa regarding the plight of artists”, where Mr. Mzwakhe Mbuli alleges among others, that the government did not not worry about the fate of the artists, that the artists are swindled. Mr. Mbuli goes on to accuse the president of being inactive in dealing with these issues.

This statement is devoid of any truth and is rather misleading on Mr. Mbuli’s part. Sadly, it has also caught the bandwagon of others who, despite the support they have received in the past, continue to feed the public with false claims that are not supported by verifiable and publicly available facts. The Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture, headed by Minister Nathi Mthethwa, has, through various initiatives, supported the sector. We have constantly insisted that the funds available could never be sufficient to support every artist.

We are a benevolent government. Mr. Mbuli is living testimony to this. Over the past 5 years, DSAC has financially supported Mr. Mbuli to the tune of R12 million for various projects. Through the Presidential Job Boosting Program (PESP), the President has ensured that artists receive 272 million Rand of the 285 million Rand intended for artists precisely because the President understands the importance of the creative sector. The remaining 4% is being finalized thanks to requests that are currently being processed by the National Arts Council (NAC).

As we understand the plight of artists in the country due to the devastating impact of COVID-19, especially on the sports, arts and culture sector, we implore practitioners to be balanced in their portrayal of the government and the role government played during this difficult time.

In the final analysis, we remain open to genuine engagement with the sector. We are focusing on finding solutions for economic recovery and reconstruction of the sector and we call on all players to focus their energies positively in this direction.

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