Artists and cultural workers raised their eyebrows sharply this week when state-funding body the National Arts Council (NAC) released its 2017/18 annual report.
Among the financial details provided includes money paid to its controversial board as remuneration for attending board and subcommittee meetings.
Chair gets almost R400 000
The report reveals that the chair of council, Hartley Ngoato, was paid R383 096 in the course of the financial year.
City Press has surveyed the last five NAC annual reports, which confirm that this is more than double the highest amount paid to a board chair. In 2013 Angie Makwetla received R167 598, considerably higher than any other year – until Ngoato’s unprecedented payout, which is almost three times the average paid to a board chair in the past five years.
In total the 20-person board received R1.869 885 million in the past financial year. This is considerably higher than any council bill of the past five years. Until this year the highest remuneration paid to the board was R1.189 531 million, again in 2013.
Was the deputy chair supposed to be paid?
The annual report also reveals that the NAC’s deputy chair, Jabu Dlamini, received R141 283 in honorariums for the past financial year.
The problem with this payment is that Dlamini is believed to work for the Mpumalanga department of culture, sport and recreation. As she already works for the state she is not not eligible for board stipends, according to Treasury’s rules.
Sources close to the board say the Dlamini matter has been raised at board meetings in the past.
The NAC did not respond to questions about board remuneration sent on Thursday. On Friday a member of the NAC’s communications team wrote to City Press saying, “The NAC is in the process of reviewing the responses to your questions and will give appropriate responses by next week.”
Traditionally, council members would see it as a kind of “national service” to serve on the boards of cultural institutions and would fairly commonly insist on not being remunerated, say board secretaries that City Press has spoken with. Other cultural councils’ fees also pale in comparison to what Ngoato has received.
Council members are remunerated for travel and for time spent having to review documents as well as hours spent attending meetings. But these fees are stipulated by Treasury. Each cultural council offers different honorariums but they average between R1 500 to R2 500 per day. Board members are commonly also allowed to fly business class when travelling overseas.
City Press has previously reported on the NAC council’s publicly funded trips to cultural events, which have also allegedly reached a new high in the past two years.
These include trips to musician and original NAC board member Ray Phiri’s funeral in Mpumalanga, the Macufe Mangaung African Cultural Festival in Bloemfontein and the Crown Gospel Music Awards in Durban.
Former NAC board members told City Press that such trips were kept to a minimum by previous boards because staff working on these projects should visit for work purposes, not board members.
The NAC strongly denied that the board was taking excessive trips.
The state’s arts funding body has been in the news after a whistle-blower, Mary-Anne Makgoka, exposed allegedly dodgy funding deals that have resulted in chief executive Rosemary Mangope facing a disciplinary hearing. Makgoka was fired after a disciplinary hearing in which Ngoato led the charges against her.
Last week City Press reported on a new scandal brewing around the funing of the Free State Provincial Arts Culture Council to the tune of R500 000. The NAC has still not responded to these latest claims.
- This article was updated on October 16 2018 to correct one of the financial deductions contained in it.