The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is appalled to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (GSACR) has spent R16 546 200 on two service providers to administer the payment of R13 206 000 Covid-19 relief grants to the Gauteng athletes and artists.
It is extremely concerning that two service providers were paid such a ridiculous amount of money, which is higher than the amount individually paid out to artists and athletes. The jobs of the two entities enlisted to help administer grants must be audited to ascertain exactly how they used the millions of rand that was paid to them. Clearly this Covid-19 relief grant did not benefit the financially struggling Gauteng athletes and artists, but a few individuals, labelled as ‘department stakeholders’.
This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
According to MEC Hlophe, the Covid-19 relief funds of R13 206 000 were paid from November 2020 to date to Gauteng athletes and artists. This means that 2201 athletes and artists have been paid R6000 each. While the relief grant is meant to ease the pressure off artists and athletes during this trying time, this amount could have been higher or included more recipients had the department negotiated a lower administration fee or simply facilitated the disbursement themselves.
There are still many artists and athletes in the province who are struggling to make ends meet and the utter lack of forward thinking by this department when it came to the distribution of the Covid-19 relief grant is unacceptable.
Business Arts South Africa had received R9,946,200, and the Gauteng Sports Confederation had received R6,600,000 (both inclusive of the administration fee) for administering the payments for Gauteng athletes and artists.
While we understand that these two service providers play a critical role in the careers of artists and athletes, however, they should not have benefitted more than the artists themselves who are the sole beneficiaries of this grant.
The administration of the Covid-19 relief grant could have been done in-house by the officials of the department as a way of saving costs and ensuring that more artists and athletes could have benefitted.
The DA will not hesitate to hold MEC Hlophe to account for the millions spent on service providers instead of the beneficiaries and will continue to put pressure on the MEC to utilise in-house officials to administer the Covid-19 relief funds. We will also keep pushing for a full investigation into the funds paid to the service providers until the truth is revealed on how the Covid-19 relief grant has been spent.
It is high time that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely to benefit our people who are in dire need of financial support, and not a few individuals who are directly connected or linked to the department.
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