DA condemns claims that National Arts Council paid CEO's internal hearing fees
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has condemned allegations that the National Arts Council (NAC) allegedly paid its chief executive's legal fees for an internal disciplinary process.
According to the DA, the NAC paid R596,000.44 for Rosemary Mangope’s legal fees for a hearing concluded in 2019.
Mangope was cleared of any wrongdoing during the process, the DA said.
"The DA finds it highly irregular that the NAC would foot the bill for Mangope’s disciplinary process. This casts a massive cloud over the independence of the entire internal process into her alleged misappropriation of taxpayer money.
"Investigations into her alleged dodgy dealings at the council have been marred by controversy. In August 2018, the SA Roadies Association (Sara) filed a complaint against the office of the auditor-general (AG) for awarding the NAC with three clean audits (2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18) in a row. They questioned how AG officials did not pick up alleged irregular funds dispersed by the NAC through its disputed expired projects and funding policy (surplus funds)," the DA said in a statement.
According to the DA, Sara alleged that Mangope signed off on a "fake funding proposal" that was lodged on its behalf without the association's knowledge.
The DA said: "Only when a later grant application by Sara was declined did they become aware of what had happened. Sara eventually took the NAC to court, alleging that its policy enabled NAC staff to dubiously put forward proposals for NAC funding for their own benefit at the expense of those who are truly in need of the funding.
"An initial report by the Business Innovation Group (BIG) into these allegations found that the policy, approved by the audit and risk committee and NAC executive committee in 2015, appeared not to be in line with National Treasury and the Public Finance Management Act. The BIG report was later dismissed after it emerged the CEO had historic ties with a forensic auditor of the group who was part of the investigating team," the DA said.
According to the DA, a forensic report tabled before the NAC revealed that Mangope had looted money through the surplus funds.
"Despite the serious corruption allegations levelled against her, Mangope was placed on special leave and not suspended. She received her full salary during that period, and it has now come to light that her employer may have covered her legal representation for the internal process which ultimately cleared her of any wrongdoing," the DA said
"Given these inconsistencies, Sara was left with no choice but to refer the complaint to the public protector. The DA has been reliably informed that the investigation is at an advanced stage, and we hope a report will be released soon."