Relief fund payments above board: Mahasa

There has been no corruption of any sort in the disbursement of Covid-19 lockdown relief funds, as alleged and perpetuated by some people on various social media platforms, says MEC for sport, arts, and culture, Limakatso Mahasa.

Speaking on the criticism her department has been subjected to over payments, Mahasa said all due processes needed to be followed before the release of funds to selected qualifying artists and athletes during July.

“It’s important that we make this abundantly clear, there has been no corruption from the department’s side throughout this process,” she explained.

Mahasa said the department appointed a committee to adjudicate the applications for relief received from artists and athletes.

“In line with the regulatory requirements and national guidelines from the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture, the adjudication process was followed by a verification process undertaken by an oversight committee, the purpose of which was to ensure due diligence and compliance with public laws and regulations,” she noted.

Mahasa cited challenges of duplications in applications that the adjudication committee had to deal with delayed the disbursement of funds.

She added the department received 880 applications and of these 400 were successful. Another 300 failed to meet the set-out criteria, and 180 were duplicates.

“Double or multiple applications by some applicants using different names and/or entities, amongst other discrepancies, was the biggest challenge,” said Mahasa.

As a result, the adjudication committee had to be reconvened to further address these discrepancies to ensure full compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.

The challenges were mainly encountered concerning artists’ relief component of the applications but not so much with the athletes’ relief component, the MEC explained.

While acknowledging these were indeed tough times for the entertainment industry, Mahasa said the department would establish a re-appeal committee to look into failed applicants.

“It’s a tough time for our artists and we can’t just leave them as they are hence the decision to establish a committee to assist them and within the parametres of the set-out rules,” she said.

To ensure fairness and transparency, the names of all beneficiaries would be published as well as those who were unsuccessful. This, according to Mahasa, would serve as proof the department has nothing to hide from the people.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi