Covid-19: NAC CEO, CFO charged over disbursement of R300m to struggling artists during pandemic

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Artists protesting outside of the offices of the NAC. (Photo: Letlhogonolo Moloi/ Supplied)
Artists protesting outside of the offices of the NAC. (Photo: Letlhogonolo Moloi/ Supplied)
  • The National Arts Council says it has charged its suspended CEO and CFO for financial mismanagement over funding meant for artists and creatives.
  • A forensic report released over the weekend revealed transgressions against top executives, managers and project managers. 
  • The CEO and CFO were suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The National Arts Council (NAC), which was at the centre of corruption allegations in the disbursement of R300 million meant for artists and creatives, says it has charged its suspended CEO Rosemary Mangope and CFO Clifton Changfoot.

The NAC released a forensic report into allegation of mismanagement of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package (PESP) this weekend.

The investigation was launched in July and completed and submitted to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa in September.

Mthethwa immediately held a press briefing, revealing five former council members were implicated after receiving funds illegally.

According to the forensic report, they received irregular payments of R511 452 for performing the work of independent panel members in contravention of the NAC Act.

The report found Mangope failed to properly manage and direct the stimulus package in that she failed to ensure internal control and financial management were carried out.

She was found to have misrepresented information to the executive committee which continued to approve funding for applications beyond the allocated PESP budget, when no formal submission requesting additional funding from National Treasury was requested. 

READ | There’s more to Makhanda than the National Arts Festival

The allocated budget was exceeded during the adjudication of applications for funding and Mangope failed to take appropriate steps to prevent the over-subscription or mitigate the results thereof.

"We also find that the exco did not act within the best interest of the NAC in managing the financial affairs of the PESP. No approval for additional funding was obtained in writing from National Treasury to approve the additional funding, as alluded to by the CEO. Exco continued to approve applications beyond the allocated budget of R285 million.

"We find that Ms Mangope failed to act with fidelity, honesty and in the best interest of the NAC in managing the financial affairs of the PESP by not ensuring that the approved applications remained within the allocated budget of R285 million as opposed to the over-committed amount of R637 705 800," read the report.

Changfoot was found to have failed to exercise financial and management oversight when more than R8 million was awarded to applicants when no approval had been granted by the executive committee.

Furthermore, it was found he failed in the PESP by not raising concerns the approval of Stream 2 applications exceeded the allocated budget.

The report recommended the NAC should take action against project managers, 21 panel members and the executive committee.

READ | NAC fulfills grant payment to the National Arts Festival

The PESP funds were disbursed through two streams - one was for wages and focused on companies, SMMEs and individual creatives, R100 million was allocated.

The second stream had R185 million to create work opportunities for artists - R15 million was set aside for project administration costs.

The creative industry was left reeling as the Covid-19 pandemic forced lockdowns for almost two years, preventing artists and creatives from earning a living.

Artists took matters into their own hands and camped inside the NAC offices in Newtown in downtown Johannesburg demanding management address their concerns over the payments.

Mangope and Changfoot were suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation.

News24 requested the charge sheet from the NAC but had not received it at the time of publication.

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