National Arts Council PESP forensic report to be released today

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

The waiting is final over as one of the much anticipated forensic reports in arts circles will eventually be released today, Monday, September 27.

This forensic report is in relation to the Presidential Economic Stimulus Package (PESP) funds that has seen chaos bedevilling the distribution of relief funds to artists  as the distribution agency appointed to carry out this responsibility the National Arts Council (NAC) descended into chaos. Even of now some artists have still not received all the money they have been allocated, nine months after the announcement for application to the fund by artists was made in November 2020 by the NAC.

The chaos that followed this debacle has seen the suspension of Chief Executive officer Rosemary Mangope and the Chief Financial Officer  Clifton Changfoot. The two senior arts executives are yet to receive a charge sheet from the NAC Council. Instead it was decided that the forensic report will give guidance as to who will face the music with regards to the debacle. And so this report that will be released to the public today by Minister Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa and his Deputy Nocawe Mafu is highly anticipated in arts circles.

However a civil-society driven investigation in to the debacle commissioned by Theatre and Dance Alliance, (TADA) released in August put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the NAC for the debacle.

And so it will be interesting to see what will come from the official investigation this time around, especially because already there were complaints in arts circles as to whether the terms of references have been formulated in a fair manner, with some fearing that the terms of reference are critical in getting to the bottom of the matter and therefore their framing is an important part of getting to the bottom of this matter.

It is therefore important to see who will take the blame for the chaos that happened, and which forced a group of artists led by soprano Sibongile Mngoma to occupy the offices of the NAC for 60 days, an unprecedented move in post apartheid South Africa. In fact the debacle has recalibrated the relationship between the protesting artists and DSAC. Both the DSAC and the protecting artists are yet to deal fully with the breakdown of their relationship as a result of the  PESP debacle.

It is in this context that the forensic report is much anticipated as it will either clear some people or blame them for what happened, especially the CEO and CFO, who have been placed on leave without charges. The report is therefore expected to give guidance as to the future of the two arts executives at the helm of the NAC. Clearly their fate at the NAC is inextricably tied to what the report says about them.

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