By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) has eventually responded on allegations that it is not financially supporting one of the most important monuments in the fight for freedom in South Africa.
Instead DSAC says that in fact it has funding LiliesLeaf Farm in the past few years but had to stop doing so because of lack of accountability on the part of the Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Wolpe for the money that was handed to the museum to keep it running. Liles Farm was the secret venue from which leaders of the liberation struggled belonging to the South African Communist Party and the ANC in the 1960s, including former President of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela, planned and executed armed resistance to the apartheid government, before they were raided and arrested, leading to the infamous Rivonia Trial of 1963/1964
In a statement released on Thursday, September 2, 2021, in response to media reports that LiliesLeaf Farm has closed its doors to the public, due to lack of funds to pay for its operations cost, DSAC took exception to Wolpe’s allegations that his appeal for funding from both the provincial Government and DSAC fell on deaf ears, forcing the museum to shut its doors to the public (see separate story in this edition of CITYLIFE/ARTS).
CITYLIFE/ARTS below therefore publishes DSAC’s statement in its entirety.
“The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) takes a dim view of the recently published media release headlined “LILIESLEAF CLOSES INDEFINITELY”, issued under the name of Nicholas Wolpe, founder and CEO of Liliesleaf Trust.
DSAC has funded Liliesleaf in the range of R70 million, over a period of 13 years. For the 2020/2021 financial year, an additional R1,8 million was budgeted for the trust. All this is being done against an understanding of the historical significance and contribution of Liliesleaf to the liberation of our country.
In 2015 DSAC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Liliesleaf Trust to upgrade and enhance the facilicity’s exhibition infrastructure. Based on this contract of R9 million, a first tranche of R8,1 million was transferred to the trust. The remaining R900 000 could not be honoured due to failure of Liliesleaf Trust to account on the initial payment of R8,1 million. An obligation spelt out in the MoA between DSAC and Liliesleaf Trust. In terms of PFMA Section 38, government cannot continue funding an institution that fails to account for public funds that it receives from government.
Consequently, on the 4th of May 2021 DSAC, led by Minister Nathi Mthethwa, escalated the failure of the CEO to report and account for the R8.1 million to the Liliesleaf Board, led by former President Kgalema Motlanthe. The Board committed to do a forensic investigation into the matter and report back to DSAC. The Department is still awaiting feedback from the board in this regard.
Liliesleaf Trust is ineligible to receive yearly operational funds from DSAC since the site has not been designated as a Declared Cultural Institution under the Cultural Institutions Act and a Schedule 3 A Public Entity under the PFMA. Numerous suggestions in this regard by government have not been found favourable by the trust. However, they refused to be declared, preferring to remain independent and self- sufficient.”
CITYLIFE/ARTS was unable to reach Wolpe this afternoon for his comment, but as soon as we do so, we will update this developing story.