The Cultural & Creative Industries Federation of SA (CCISFA) has once again come under fire over allegations of misuse of funds.
The latest to level accusations against the organisation is veteran pop star Mercy Pakela.
According to the veteran artist, CCISFA is accused of misusing an R15 million grant allocated to it by the department of the arts and culture.
This is not the first time the organisation has been accused of mismanagement of funds. The director of the Wits Theatre and arts activist, Gitanjali Pather made a similar claim in 2016.
Two years after its elective conference which was held at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein in March 2014, CCISFA came under the spotlight for allegedly misuse of funds. Pather reported the matter to the public protector at the time.
Pather later wrote a letter to the minister of arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, asking the federation to account for R5.7 million that was allocated to it by the department in 2014. In total, CCISFA has received about R10.7-million in taxpayers’ money from the department – and no one seems able to provide any audited financials.
“This is taxpayers’ money and every time I have asked the federation there was no one to tell me what has happened to the funds. They feel like they have no obligation to respond to questions about public funds; instead, they have become arrogant,” Pather said in the letter leaked to the media.
The surfacing of the latest allegation raises eyebrows and places the organisation under the spotlight once again.
Pakela’s allegations have been corroborated by two other artists and all claim that since 2015 the federation had received R5 million a year from the department, but there was little to show for it.
They also questioned why the national conference headed by Bloemfontein-born actor Tony Kgoroge, did not take place in March as the department of arts and culture announced earlier this year.
In February this, CCISFA deputy president Papa Penny resigned, citing lack of appreciation. Taking to social media, the musician however denied any abuse of grant allocations. Papa Penny drew a salary of R15 000 a month as deputy.
He said artists had been fighting among themselves since the federation’s board was elected in Mangaung in 2015.
“The same artists who are fighting to sit on the federation’s board have no idea that there were not enough funds to sustain the organisation,” he claimed.
“It is sad that some artists seem to think that when you are nominated to sit on a board, you automatically become a millionaire.”
Penny added during his tenure, the board did well to build the organisation in all provinces, organising the artists into categories, including musicians, performance and celebration, visual arts and crafts, and language and publishing.
But not everyone agrees with him. Kwaito star-turned-businessperson Eugene Mthethwa – who was part of the federation when it first began and contested Kgoroge during its elective conference in Bloemfontein – said CCISFA was not doing its job of organising artists.
Mthethwa added there was no evidence of proper financial reporting or accounting on how the R15 million was used.
The federation confirmed it received an R15 million grant from the arts and culture department but strongly denied the funds were mismanaged. It said, “As per the contract between the arts and culture department and the federation, the audited reports have been handed over to the department.”
Former 999 music manager and businessperson Brian Mokoena blamed Sibongile Besani, chief of staff of arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, for stalling the process and delaying the conference.
Responding to the allegations, Besani, a former ANC provincial secretary in the Free State said it was unfair that people were dragging his name into the mess.
“I have done my job to make sure all the meetings from all the 52 districts were held. It was not an easy process, but we managed to achieve the first step,” Besani pointed out.
“We must remember before the national conference that we first had to attend to meetings in 52 districts, then all the provinces before the national conference takes place.
“Most importantly, the budget for the national conference hasn’t been approved by the department of arts and culture, hence the delay,” he explained.
The federation said the department was leading preparations for the conference.
“The objective was to appoint delegates to the provincial summits, which would pave the way to the elective conference. We were then advised by the department to put the processes on hold partly because of the elections,” CCISFA noted in a statement.