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Arts and culture department hits back at EFF, says it has paid artists more than R50m during lockdown

Julius Malema claims EFF is the only party that cares about artists

28 July 2021 - 11:00 By cebelihle bhengu
Protesters and critics claim that many artists have not been able to access relief funding during the lockdown. File photo.
Protesters and critics claim that many artists have not been able to access relief funding during the lockdown. File photo.
Image: Emile Bosch

It is not true the department of sport, arts and culture has failed to financially support artists as they continue to feel the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, deputy director-general Cynthia Khumalo told parliament on Tuesday.

This was in response to criticism from the EFF’s Ringo Madlingozi and Julius Malema and other opposition parties who accused the government of failing artists.

Speaking at the portfolio committee on sport, arts and culture, Ringo said artists are going through depression and are suffering. “It is time this department takes the creatives seriously,” he said. 

Addressing the EFF’s recent eighth anniversary commemoration, Malema said the party was the only reliable ally for the creative industry. 

“The EFF set up a relief fund during Covid-19 for all artists who have historically been part of our events. As we celebrate our eighth anniversary, we must intensify our efforts to protect the creative industry and ensure artists are taken care of,” said Malema. 

Cynthia told the portfolio committee the department had paid out R51m at R10,000 per beneficiary as of July 22. She said the department received 7,446 individual applications and 5,100 were successfully paid. 

“A lot of effort went into ensuring that as many applicants who put through their applications received the funding or were adjudicated. The number of rejected applications sit at less than 1,000,” she said.

Cynthia said the department prioritised individuals and is processing payments to arts organisations.

“The eye has now shifted to organisations. I need to clarify they were not put aside and their adjudication was finalised, as reflected in the figures we are reporting. A total of 1,103 applications from organisations were received and 1,088 were adjudicated. The processing of applications will be subject to further availability.”

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa also dismissed the claims made by the EFF.

“It is a fallacy that nothing is happening. Here is the evidence and we must make it clear. While we have not reached everybody, these are people, warm bodies, who benefited out of government and the department,” he said.