SA Roadies Association lays graft charges against the National Arts Council’s CEO

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NEWS


The SA Roadies Association (Sara) has opened a case of fraud and corruption against Rosemary Mangope, the CEO of the National Arts Council (NAC), which implicates Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Sara is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to the advancement and development of technical and production skills and knowledge of young people.

The case, which the Hawks have confirmed they are investigating, follows Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s June 15 report, which found that the NAC’s expired projects and surplus policy to disperse funds was unlawful and unconstitutional.

The policy was approved by the NAC in 2015.

Mkhwebane also found that the allegation in the complaint of Sara president Freddie Nyathela that Mangope had applied to the NAC’s executive committee for a R350 000 annual partnership on behalf of Nyathela without his knowledge, was substantiated.

Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Masechaba Khumalo, said the minister was unaware of the case opened against him.

“If this is indeed true, it displays ignorance on corporate governance issues and at worst it is a publicity stunt on the side of Nyathela. CEOs are appointed, report and are accountable to their boards. The minister has no legal basis to micromanage CEOs,” Khumalo said.

The minister deliberately chose then not to act and correct the unlawful behaviour at the NAC, instead allowing such to continue unabated into August this year. The minister has also deliberately protected fraud and corruption
Affidavit

Hartley Ngoato, the NAC board chairperson, said Mangope was not aware of the case before she was contacted by City Press for comment.

“Prior to the Public Protector’s final report being published, Rosemary, as well as the NAC, made written submissions to the Public Protector’s office, detailing their respective versions for purposes of guiding the Public Protector towards a fair and appropriate outcome.

“However, despite the aforesaid, the Public Protector has nonetheless issued the report in a manner which seems to have ignored the aforementioned representations. Under the circumstances, both Rosemary and the NAC have instructed their attorneys, Mobeen Moosa Attorneys, to file the necessary application for review of the administrative action taken by the Public Protector, which application is presently pending,” Ngoato said.

He said Mangope and the NAC were not surprised by this latest development “as they are absolutely certain that they have committed no such offence and thus will await receipt of the formal charges whereafter their respective legal counsel(s) will deal with the matter accordingly”.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE NAC

Nyathela said they had submitted a funding application to the NAC office with the required documents, by hand, on July 30 2014.

The application was for R920 734.62 to buy staging and lighting equipment. He said Sara had received a letter dated December 5 2014 from the NAC stating that “we regret to inform you that we are unable to provide the support that you require”.

READ: Will South African artists benefit from Covid-19 relief fund?

The application was incomplete because it didn’t have:

  • Three reference letters;
  • Copies of IDs of board members;
  • Audited financial statements;
  • CVs of office bearers;
  • Three bank statements; and
  • A tax clearance certificate.

Nyathela said they had sent an email to the NAC on December 8 2014, stating that all documents were submitted, except for the copies of IDs of board members, as they were not on file and it was the first time the NAC had requested such copies.

If this is indeed true, it displays ignorance on corporate governance issues and at worst it is a publicity stunt on the side of Nyathela
Masechaba Khumalo

He claimed that Mangope then requested a meeting which was held at Sara House on February 24 2015.

Nyathela alleged that Mangope, former NAC chairperson Angie Makwetla and arts development manager Julie Diphofa attended the meeting.

“It was agreed and acknowledged at the meeting that the NAC made a mistake by declining Sara’s application. The NAC said it would be corrected. Unfortunately, the NAC failed to correct the mistake and [avoided] providing Sara with a response.

“On March 18 2015 Sara received a copy of a submission to the executive committee dated March 9 2015 from a whistle-blower at the NAC. This submission included an application in the name of Sara ... Sara had never submitted an application to the NAC for an annual partnership for R350 000,” the affidavit reads.

“This was a fake application created by the CEO and submitted to the executive committee without Sara’s knowledge and consent. The CEO then wanted to justify her conduct by saying that the NAC’s expired projects and surplus policy gave her the right to make an application on Sara’s behalf without Sara’s knowledge and consent.”

Nyathela said that, when they read the policy, they found it to be unlawful and approached Mkhwebane’s office to lay a complaint against Mangope and the NAC.

MTHETHWA’S ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT

In the affidavit, Nyathela alleged Mthethwa had know since October 13 2016 that the NAC’s policy was unlawful and constituted maladministration.

“The minister deliberately chose then not to act and correct the unlawful behaviour at the NAC, instead allowing such to continue unabated into August this year. The minister has also deliberately protected fraud and corruption,” the affidavit reads.

To back up his claims, Nyathela provided a report signed by Mthethwa, dated October 13 2016, of an investigation that was carried out by the department and the Business Innovations Group into allegations of misconduct by the senior management of the NAC, as a result of the failure to award a grant to Sara.

Nathi Mthethwa
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Twitter

City Press understands that, in the report, senior managers were cleared of being involved in irregularities, the department took a position that the NAC should abolish the policy and recommended that a legal opinion should be sought to support this position.

However, City Press also understands that the department’s view was that the policy was “open to abuse and is not transparent, and is possibly also in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and the National Treasury regulations”.

When approached for comment, Nyathela said: “The rot and abuse of power should be stopped for the sake of young people’s empowerment, transformation and national interest.”


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Msindisi Fengu 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
msindisi.fengu@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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