Sports awards funds should’ve been used to pay artists and athletes – youth forum

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MEC Mbali Hlophe's department added it had spent under their R9 million budget for the awards. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
MEC Mbali Hlophe's department added it had spent under their R9 million budget for the awards. Photo: Tebogo Letsie


The SA Arts and Culture Youth Forum believes holding the Gauteng Sports Awards was a bad idea, particularly as many artists in the province have not received their Covid-19 relief funds.

“Any money spent on celebrating the hard work athletes and artists do can never be called a waste. But, looking at the period like 2021, when there were barely any sports or other activities due to Covid-19 regulations, and the fact that the Gauteng department of sport, arts, culture and recreation has not paid most artists and athletes, I’d say the money spent on the awards was misused,” youth forum president Romeo Ramuada said.

He was responding to a statement released on Tuesday by the DA’s Kingsol Chabalala, who said his party had been reliably informed that the department had spent R7 million on the 2021 Gauteng Sports Awards, despite the DA’s caution to the department on excessive spending on the event.

Chabalala said:

The money spent on the Gauteng Sports Awards could have been used to provide the Covid-19 relief grant to 1 166 athletes and artists at a rate of R6 000 each.

Ramuada told City Press on Thursday that there were artists who had been waiting for the relief grant from the department since July 2021. “The department has been postponing payments. People were told they’d get money in August, November, and they are still waiting, even now.”

However, the department denied Chabalala’s claims and, in a statement released on Tuesday, said: “The department has to date spent R19.6 million on Covid relief, from which close to 3 000 artists and athletes have benefited.”

It said it had also received a pat on the back from national Minister Nathi Mthethwa for being the number one province in providing the largest amount for relief, accounting for 44% of the national count.

READ: MEC Mbali Hlophe adamant her department paid artists, athletes R28m in Covid relief

The department added it had spent under their R9 million budget for the awards, due to “the MEC (Mbali Hlophe) indicating at the beginning of her tenure that the department would cut its expenditure on events, so more funds are allocated to our school sports and arts Wednesday leagues development programme”.

Chabalala said that, while the DA supported the honouring of athletes, as it motivated them and inspired the youth to take part in sports, they did not agree with “excessive spending on this annual event, considering the suffering of residents during this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“This event can be held at any one of the many government venues or community stadiums available, instead of paying for expensive venues and wasting money on food and beverages. The department can also hire local artists to perform to showcase their talents, instead of hiring renowned artists.”

Ramuada agreed with Chabalala’s point on hiring local artists.

He said: 

Only the department’s favourites get their funds paid out and only those artists get hired for gigs by the department.

The department said it was the creative industry, including all technical expertise to host the event – the individuals who work behind the scenes – who were the biggest cost drivers for the awards.

Ramuada labelled the MEC petty and inconsiderate after her department laid a criminal charge against artists after they had allegedly forced their way into her office in Johannesburg.

READ: Covid relief funds: 'Inconsiderate' MEC takes long-suffering artists to court

He vowed to continue taking the fight to the MEC. “We just want to say that the MEC must stop ducking and diving. A lot of artists still haven’t been paid. We’ll continue going to that department until those artists are paid.”


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