Parliament Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula 'misled and given false information' - NPO

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National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Photo: Deaan Vivier/Netwerk24
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Photo: Deaan Vivier/Netwerk24

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An NPO has accused a parliamentary oversight committee of failing to hold a state entity accountable.

This after the SA Roadies Association (Sara) wrote to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on May 12 asking for her intervention following allegations that the portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture has failed to ensure the National Arts Council (NAC) accounts for its controversial policy on expired projects and surplus grants.

Sara, an NPO dedicated to the advancement and development of technical and production skills and knowledge of young people, has been at loggerheads with the NAC over the decision taken by former CEO Rosemary Mangope to make a submission on behalf of Sara for funding, allegedly without the NPO's knowledge, which resulted in the NPO being disqualified from receiving funding.

READ: AG, Public Protector probe arts council as questions raised after clean audit

The marathon battle between the NAC and Sara landed at the Office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who found it in Sara’s favour.

City Press understands that in a response to Sara's president Freddie Nyathela, Mapisa-Nqakula directed the committee to respond to Nyathela’s concerns relating to the NAC's submission to the committee about its controversial policy.

Mapisa-Nqakula, in a letter dated September 1, which City Press has seen, said she was responding to Nyathela’s requests for her assistance in getting the committee to respond to concerns he had reported “about the happenings around the NAC”.

She said they established that the NAC responded to his concerns.

“Notwithstanding the above, I have forwarded your submission to the committee with a directive that it communicates with you on the matter,” Mapisa-Nqakula wrote.

‘You were misled’

But, in response to Mapisa-Nqakula, Nyathela told her in a letter dated September 2 that Sara was obliged to inform her that they had not received a response from either the committee or the NAC.

Nyathela said:

This advises that whatever assurances the Speaker of the National Assembly was given to have established that the NAC did respond through the committee, were assurances [without] evidence, meaning that the Speaker of the National Assembly was given false and untrue information.

He, however, thanked Mapisa-Nqakula for intervening by forwarding Sara’s submission to the committee with a directive to communicate with them on the matter.

“Hopefully, a response will be received by Sara shortly and that this unfortunate long-dragging request soon be put to bed,” Nyathela wrote.

‘NAC lied’

However, Nyathela told City Press that the NAC and the committee had deliberately failed to respond to his letter.

READ: Mangope launches bid to set aside Mkhwebane report

He said the committee also failed to respond to Sara's complaint against the NAC for willfully presenting dishonest statements to the committee on May 27 regarding the implementation of the remedial action of Mkhwebane's office and the alleged unlawful expired projects and surplus policy.

Nyathela said:

The NAC council has breached section 17 (2) (d) (e) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (Act 4 of 2004).

In terms of the act, Nyathela said it was a criminal offence to present false and dishonest statements to Parliament and its committee.

Questions were sent to the committee, but a response has not been received.

The NAC has also not responded at the time of publishing.

‘Concerns not addressed’

City Press understands that at the centre of the dispute is a letter that was sent by NAC acting chief executive officer Julie Diphofa to Nyathela on July 13 2021.

Diphofa was responding to Nyathela’s letter dated June 23 2021 questioning the NAC’s decision relating to its policies.

READ: Suspended NAC boss’ bid to set aside Public Protector’s report is challenged

In her letter, Diphofa was at pains explaining how she thought that Sara was suitable for funding despite the NAC’s funding policy not supporting applications for capital or infrastructure projects.

She said the ultimate decision to fund Sara rested on a formal adjudication process.

Diphofa said:

The application submitted by Sara was subsequently declined at the first stage of adjudication based on administrative non-compliance. As has already been addressed in my correspondence on June 23 2021, the application should not have been declined for administrative non-compliance but rather on the basis that the NAC Funding Policy no longer supports capital/infrastructure applications.

She said they acknowledged that this should have been formally communicated to Sara at the time and that it failed to do so.

"The apology contained in my letter of June 23 2021 is repeated,” Diphofa wrote.

But, Nyathela in a letter to Diphofa on July 22 2021 said her letter did not address their concerns.

“In fact, you exacerbate Sara’s concerns,” he wrote.

In part, Nyathela said the only policy that was used by the NAC for flagship projects was the expired projects and surplus policy.

“So, what ‘NAC Funding Policy’ exactly do you refer to is one question Sara asks…and why do you not refer to the Expired Projects and Surplus Policy, the specific policy utilised by the NAC, on record, with respect to the flagship projects is a second question. You make no reference to which clause in this so-called ‘NAC Funding Policy’, which ‘did not support applications for capital/infrastructure projects’ – could you please confirm which clause in which exact policy you refer to,” Nyathela wrote.


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