The Institute of Democracy and Transformation has slammed the Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EEF’s) protest at the Department of Arts and Culture today.
The Institute says the party is shying away from the real issues which the society is facing, the institute is questioning why the EEF has not protested at the Department of Minerals and Energy for high fuel prices or Public Enterprises for load shedding.
The Institute said the move was disingenuous because Sport, Arts and Culture was not responsible for the Covid-19 Disaster Management Act.
Institute Secretary, Imran Makama said that the reopening of stadia under Covid restrictions is not the responsibility of Minister Mthethwa.
“It is the responsibility of the Coronavirus National Command Council and COGTA. It is misleading the public to pretend that the closing of stadia was the decision of the department of Sport, Arts and Culture,” said Makama.
Minister Mthethwa said in a statement that he knew the importance of reopening of stadiums and other cultural venues for the recovery of the sector.
Mthethwa said that he was working to establish the Return to Play Adjudication Committee of experts to support organisations, clubs and individuals to comply with Covd-19 regulations.
He said the Safe Return of Spectators Strategy that was started in October last year has been heavily delayed by Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.
“The department of Sport, Art and Culture is committed to engaging the Cabinet on this phased approach but does encourage South Africans to get vaccinated in an effort to aid the safe return to stadiums.” said Mthethwa.
On Wednesday Mthethwa said that attention therefore remains fixed on how access can be further extended without under-rating the real dangers of COVID-19.
“Discussions are already under way through Cabinet processes to look at possibilities to further increase spectator numbers. And if this is successful, it will be communicated as was done previously”, said Mthethwa.
In early 2020 the Department set up a R150 million relief fund to assist artists and athletes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year while addressing Parliament on the occasion of the Budget Vote Mthethwa said the phased-in relief fund had disbursed R84 million resulting in 4 925 beneficiaries. This included support for projects utilizing digital solutions in phase 1.
“Phase 2 Relief Funding resulted in R4.5 million benefitting 683 beneficiaries, Phase 3 Relief Funding which is still in progress has so far seen R14.77 million awarded to 1 408 beneficiaries,” he said.
Mthethwa further said that the department had commissioned research which was done by the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) to find out the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.
“This study, conducted mid last year, showed that almost all (95%) of respondents had experienced cancellation or indefinite postponement of work. The impact (without the induced impact) on the total output of the Covid-19 shutdown on the Covid Relief for the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCIs) is -R53,3 billion,” he said.
A number of EFF supporters and members of the arts and culture sector attended the picket at the offices of the Department of Arts and Culture yesterday in picketing action.
In a speech during the picket EFF President Julius Malema attacked Mthethwa and President Cyril Ramaphosa who he accused of using Covid 19 to micro-manage the political stage.
“He is scared of a political challenge, that is why he (Ramaphosa) is closing stadiums,” he said.
Malema said that people needed concerts, so that promoters can make money and the sub-contracted workers will be able to gain employment.
He also said this about sporting events which provided a source of income for those not only employed at the stadium, but those trading informally at the venues.
“These mothers have surrendered to poverty and you know when a mother surrenders to poverty there isn't any other solution,” said Malema.