The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation spent R16. million on two service providers to administer R13.2m Covid-19 relief grants to the Gauteng athletes and artists.
A bidding process was not followed in choosing the two companies, Business Arts South Africa and the Gauteng Sports Confederation, to pay the grants as the department said it had identified them as sector stakeholders.
This was revealed after the DA’s Kingsol Chabalala had put questions to MEC Mbali Hlophe at the Gauteng Legislature on the Covid-19 grant for artists and athletes.
In her answer to Chabalala, Hlophe said her department had spent more on paying service providers to administer the grant while the Gauteng athletes and artists only got R6 000 each.
She said Business Arts South Africa was paid R9.9m while the Gauteng Sports Confederation received R6.6m for administering the payments for the Gauteng athletes and artists.
The number of those who were assisted so far were 2 201, and 1 789 applicants were rejected, Hlophe said.
Chabalala said it was concerning two service providers were paid “such a ridiculous amount of money” which is higher than the amount individually paid out to artists and athletes.
He said the jobs of the two entities enlisted to help administer grants must be audited to ascertain exactly how they used the millions of rand that was paid to them.
“Clearly this Covid-19 relief grant did not benefit the financially struggling Gauteng athletes and artists, but a few individuals labelled as ‘department stakeholders’.
“While the relief grant is meant to ease the pressure off artists and athletes during this trying time, this amount could have been higher or included more recipients had the department negotiated a lower administration fee or simply facilitated the disbursement themselves.
“There are still many artists and athletes in the province who are struggling to make ends meet and the utter lack of forward thinking by this department when it came to the distribution of the Covid-19 relief grant is unacceptable.
“While we understand that these two service providers play a critical role in the careers of artists and athletes, however, they should not have benefited more than the artists themselves who are the sole beneficiaries of this grant.
“The administration of the Covid-19 relief grant could have been done in-house by the officials of the department as a way of saving costs and ensuring that more artists and athletes could have benefited,” Chabalala said.
Chabalala said the DA would not hesitate to hold Hlophe to account for the millions spent on service providers instead of the beneficiaries. He said they would continue to put pressure on Hlophe to utilise in-house officials to administer the Covid-19 relief funds.
“We will also keep pushing for a full investigation into the funds paid to the service providers until the truth is revealed on how the Covid-19 relief grant has been spent.
“It is high time that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely to benefit our people who are in dire need of financial support and not a few individuals who are directly connected or linked to the department,” he said.