Johannesburg — A war is looming between the Gauteng’s Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation department and the DA over the delay in the payment of the Covid-19 relief funds for artists and athletes in the province.
The bickering escalated on Tuesday morning as a number of potential relief fund recipients were asked, through an SMS, to wait for much longer to receive their payments.
In the SMS addressed to the artists and athletes, it says: “Dear Gauteng Relief Fund applicant, The Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation hereby extends a sincere apology on the delay of your Gauteng Relief Fund application.
“The outcome of the Gauteng Relief Fund is currently in the audit phase and this has immensely deferred our time frame pertaining to our anticipated release of the outcome which was 30 September 2020.
“Constant communication will materialise on the status of the outcome between the Department and yourself noting that it is anticipated that the outcome will be released by no later than 30 October 2020.
Reacting to the SMS, DA spokesperson on arts and culture, Kingsol Chabalala, said his party was disappointed to learn that none of the Gauteng athletes and artists who applied for financial assistance from the department, as part of the relief fund, had received these funds.
The applications for relief funding opened on June 14 and closed on June 26. The payment process was supposed to have begun in July.
“The fact that none of the applicants has received relief funding due to unnecessary delays, is a clear indication that this department cares little about the challenges faced by our artists and athletes during this national lockdown period as a result of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“It is worrying that in eight months of the national lockdown the department has not yet provided any financial relief to our artists and athletes who are struggling financially, and unable to make ends meet,” Chabalala said.
He said his party was calling on the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mbali Hlophe to take full responsibility for her department’s poor showing.
“We will continue to monitor the process of providing financial assistance to our artists and athletes and will continue putting pressure on MEC Hlophe to speed up the process,” he said.