Arts boss to face charges
Money that could be spent on developing the arts continues to be poured into a protracted and increasingly ugly war between two whistle-blowers and Rosemary Mangope, the chief executive of the state’s arts funding body, the National Arts Council (NAC).
The long-awaited forensic report by auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo has upheld the claims of whistle-blower Mary-Anne Makgoka that Mangope allegedly irregularly awarded R1.8m to a youth art education project called Lalela without following due process and without declaring a historical relationship with Lalela’s founder and chief executive Andrea Kerzner, daughter of Sol Kerzner.
Mangope is the daughter-in-law of late Bophuthatswana leader Lucas Mangope, who granted gambling rights to the casino king, allowing him to create an empire off the back of the Sun City resort.
This is according to sections of the report that City Press has seen, as well as interviews with another whistle-blower, Freddie Nyathela, and his business affairs manager, both of whom were finally allowed to read the report in the presence of the head of legal and the head of internal audit of the department of arts and culture, which commissioned the investigation.
The outcome of the report was confirmed by NAC spokesperson Janet Molekwa, who said: “There is a supply chain process in place to appoint an independent initiator and an independent chairperson for the disciplinary hearing. Once the initiator has been appointed, charges will be drawn and shared with the chief executive officer and the disciplinary hearing will commence. The CEO will be given access to the report once she is given her charges.”
Makgoka, engaged in a protracted disciplinary hearing to get back her job as NAC board secretary, may be vindicated. She was dismissed for allegedly not properly performing her duties – charges she says were cooked up to get rid of her. The NAC denies this.
Lalela project coordinator Oliver Nurock expressed astonishment when approached by City Press this week. “This is the first we are hearing of this. No one from the Gobodo investigation has ever contacted or questioned us about anything linked to the NAC. Surely Lalela would have been contacted if we’d been of relevance to the investigation?”
Nurock is not the only one to question the new investigation outcomes. Nyathela, the founder and president of the SA Roadies Association, exclaimed “Blue lies!” about his complaint being dismissed in the Gobodo report, which was initiated because of him.
He claims Mangope created a fake proposal on behalf of the Roadies without consulting them, even though the proposal was never adopted by the NAC board. He has repeatedly accused Mangope of creating such proposals to siphon funds from the NAC’s surplus fund generated by expired or non-delivered project funding. The use of a surplus fund defies the Public Finance Management Act and such monies must be returned to treasury, he says.
The NAC repeatedly denied his allegations and this week said: “In each of the years that the NAC has had a surplus, the NAC has duly applied to National Treasury for permission to retain such surplus ... and Treasury has granted the NAC permission.”
Arts minister Nathi Mthethwa commissioned the Gobodo report because Nyathela challenged the outcomes of an earlier investigation into his fake proposal complaint, in part because he alleged that the investigator worked at the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s forensic audit division and was acquainted with Mangope, who worked there as a divisional executive.
In the Gobodo report this claim is also dismissed.
“But how can they call it a forensic investigation when it says in the report all they did was call human resources at the bank, who said that 1 000 people worked there and they couldn’t find a relationship existed?” Nyathela asked. He has further accused the department of accepting a fatally flawed and sloppy report as true in his case. He says he was told by the department’s experts that his case was nonetheless very similar to the Lalela matter in terms of “fake proposals” being generated.
ANGRY TWEETS AND DEFAMATION CLAIMS
For almost two years now Nyathela has been sending out accusatory tweets against the NAC and Mthethwa, accusing them of corruption and maladministration.
It appears the NAC eventually had enough because they have filed a court application to compel the Roadies boss to remove his tweets and Facebook posts because they amount to defamation.
“They tried to force the case on to the roll without even first sending cease and desist letters,” Nyathela said. However, Molekwa said the case was postponed because “Nyathela did not file his papers”.
Nyathela’s attorney Thokozani Mthembu denied this, saying: “That is not true. The matter was improperly set down. It could not proceed because [the NAC] refused to produce documents that we requested. We are now compelling them to produce them.”
Serious questions still hang over Mangope regarding further allegations, not covered by the Gobodo investigation, of her irregularly awarding herself a salary increase and bonus, which the NAC admitted to Parliament and its board investigated. However, no action was taken. Molekwa this week claimed the increase was approved by the board and Mangope was “entitled” to it.
Nyathela’s claims are now the subject of a Public Protector investigation and Makgoka has taken her dismissal to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The department of arts and culture did not respond to questions from City Press.