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Minister Mthethwa says R61 million in relief funds already paid to athletes and artists

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Nathi Mthethwa

He says his department received 5,322 applications in the categories of sport, digital, as well as arts, culture, and heritage.
Speaking at a virtual media briefing on the progress made with regards to the Covid-19 relief fund allocation for the sector as well as the resumption of sport, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa confirmed that a total of R61 million has already been disbursed to beneficiaries.

Mthethwa said there were currently 117 outstanding applications being finalized by the department.

“To date, R61 million has been disbursed to beneficiaries, the department has taken into consideration the commitments for the unpaid beneficiaries in the first phase, estimated at R34 million.

“For the second phase, the amount that is allocated for Relief is R77 million. Of which R11 million is been ring-fenced for a contribution towards the partnership with the department of small business development.

“If the entire amount is to be paid specifically towards beneficiaries and no other costs are considered, the allocation will cover a total of 11,666 athletes and artists,” he said.

Mthethwa said his department received 5,322 applications in the categories of sport, digital, as well as arts, culture, and heritage.

The minister said out of the total, only 4,602 applications were recommended through the adjudication and appeals processes while 1,570 were not.

He said some application was not recommended due to some of the athletes having other sources of income such as employment or a business, while others could not be confirmed as national athletes, coaches or technical personnel in the sports sector.

“Other practitioners, particularly in the arts and culture sector had no indication of cancelled or postponed events, or generally did not fall within the set criteria,” he continued.

Mthethwa also said that incomplete or incorrect forms were used by the applicants.

“Some didn’t use the form, but just wrote in the body of the email without providing detailed information that would be required in the form.

“For digital, other applications were not innovative ideas; they did not respond to the 4th industrial revolution; that is, provided ideas which did not respond to the Covid-19 environment and regulations. We also had applicants who were not compliant with tax, especially companies,” he added.

He also confirmed that the government had processed applications for 35 venues to be reopened, including 18 museums, seven cinemas, five theatres, and five libraries in four provinces.

Another 20 applications had been received last week, however, and were still being assessed.

“There is the possibility of an extension (to the deadline), since the total number of applications is not a true reflection of the venues we have in the whole country,” he said.

In March, Mthethwa announced an R150-million relief fund to assist athletes, artists, and technical personnel in both sectors.

In addition, R50 million had been added to the national relief fund by provincial departments.

At the end of May, the government confirmed that 470 applications had been received by athletes, and 296 had been approved for funding, while 1,320 individuals had been approved in the arts and culture sector.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) had initially called for transparency regarding the relief fund following numerous allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the funds.

The party said the accusations also included that the minister’s department was not transparent about the funding process.

-The Citizen

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