Caster Semenya case, appeal & way forward; DSAC on Covid-19 Relief fund; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

09 March 2021
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video:Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture, 09 March 2021

In a virtual meeting, the Committee met with Caster Semenya’s Management and Athletic South Africa (ASA) to be updated on their parallel cases at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). In the same meeting, the Committee hosted the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and the Minister and Deputy Minister, to be briefed on what the Department had done to support the cases, as well as the three phases of the Covid-19 Relief Funding and the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP).

Caster Semenya’s management indicated that an application had been filed at the European Court of Human Rights to appeal the prior decisions on the unfair regulations. The counsel were optimistic of their chances of success, given the high profile nature of the case and the widespread support it had received, as well as the strength of their case that Caster Semenya’s human rights had been violated by the regulations. Athletics South Africa and its lawyer said that they had also applied to the European Court with its own challenge that was based not only on the personal violations of Ms Semenya, but also the ethical and scientific foundations on which the regulations were passed. Athletics SA was united with Caster’s legal team, and assured the Committee that the two parallel cases would only enhance the prospects of success.  

Caster’s Manager briefed the Committee on the Caster Semenya campaign. She highlighted that there would be a launch of three t-shirts to increase awareness and raise funds for the Caster Semenya Foundation and the case at the European Court of Human Rights. The team was also planning a public event with key industry players to bring awareness to the issue and get people to raise their voice and make a stand against discrimination.

The Department updated the Committee on the support that the government had provided, and indicated that through a panel that was established, headway had been made in mobilising the public as well as national and international bodies to denounce the unfair regulations. The medical and legal streams of the panel had also made progress in lobbying international bodies to pass resolutions to ensure that doctors worldwide did not administer any the concerned medication to lower testosterone in female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD).

Members felt strongly that support would be shown to any campaign or movement behind Caster Semenya. They appreciated the work being done by the Department in getting international bodies to support the case and force World Athletics to revise the regulations. They wanted everything to be done in the power of the Athletics South Africa to ensure that Caster Semenya was a part of the Tokyo Olympics in any capacity.

The Department also briefed the Committee on the Relief Funding and the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme. The presentation highlighted the various projects done under the Relief Funding, which included a partnership with the Solidarity Fund to disburse food vouchers. The presentations indicated that there had been issues of non-compliance in phase one of the Relief Funding, but going into phase three the criteria had been lightened so that tax registration was required. There had also been cases of double-dipping. In terms of the Stimulus Programme, projects were implemented under the second, third, and fourth programmes of the Department. For the project implemented by the Sports Trust, which focused on job retention and creation, there had been delays with payments, and issues due to the resignation of some beneficiaries.

Members were adamant that clearer information had to be given on the number of beneficiaries paid for each project, and how much had been paid in total. They also asked why there were discrepancies in terms of the figures reported for the amount of applications received, approved, and paid. The issue of the staged sit-in by artists in the National Arts Council (NAC) was concerning to Members, who wanted information to be provided on what the Department would be doing to answer the demands and support those artists.

The suspensions of the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the National Arts Council were a matter that needed to be made transparent.  It seemed that lessons were not learnt, as phase three of the Relief Funding was still a slow process. Overall, the Members were not pleased with the reports, and wanted more information to be given to ensure transparency and effective oversight.

 

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting. She urged the attendants and the public members to stay safe and take care of themselves in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She hoped that everyone was abiding by the lockdown regulations, including the associated health and safety protocols.

She was concerned about the prevalence of gender-based violence and femicide in the country and told the attendants that news headlines reported on two boys that had been raped by men. It was pathetic that the country was plagued by these incidences. This could not go on. She had heard that there was likely to be a third wave of the pandemic very soon. She was thankful that people were still coping, urged everyone to take care of themselves and said that if anyone felt sick at all they had to take it very seriously. She informed everyone that she had been done tests whenever she had felt sick, as she was scared of the virus.

She requested the Members to consider and adopt the agenda.

The Members adopted the agenda.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that Mr Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, would be present in the meeting for an hour. She then indicated that the presentation by Castor Semenya’s Management had been moved to earlier in the meeting to accommodate Mr Dev Maharaj.

Mr Aleck Skhosana, President, Athletics South Africa (ASA), greeted the Committee and appreciated the opportunity to meet with and address the Members. He handed over to Caster Semenya’s management for the briefing

Caster Semenya Management Briefing

The Brand Manager of Caster Semenya, Ms Becky Motumo, introduced herself. She said that Ms Semenya’s legal team, Mr Patrick Bracher and Mr Gregory Nott, from Norton Rose Fullbright, was also present. They had been at the forefront of Ms Semenya’s fight against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Mr Nott updated the Committee on the situation of Caster Semenya’s legal case against the IAAF. He thanked the Committee and Parliament for passing the Resolution in December 2020 in support of Ms Semenya. He indicated that Papers had been filed at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He asked Mr Bracher to brief the Committee.

Mr Bracher said that Caster Semenya’s legal team had put in an application to the ECtHR two weeks before. He said that World Athletics had passed regulations that eventually prevented Ms Semenya from running. The legal team had gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, which by a two-to-one decision refused to set aside the unfair regulations. When the legal team asked the CAS to apply full concepts of human rights, the court said that World Athletics was a private body and did not deal with broader social issues. Thus, Ms Semenya was denied access to human rights that would be second nature to everyone in South Africa.

The legal team then appealed to the Federal Supreme Court in Switzerland. That court applied what it called Swiss concepts of human rights, which could not be identified through research and only existed in the minds of those judges. Full access to the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was not given. The difficulty with both courts was that they said World Athletics was a private body and was not bound by international concepts of human rights. That was strange because in South Africa organs of state, which are the bodies that exercised a public function, were bound by the Bill of Rights, including its horizontal application. The Federal Supreme Court in Switzerland ruled to keep Caster off the track and future Olympics.

As indicated, an application was made to the ECtHR, and finally the legal team would get access to the relevant rights for Caster, namely the rights to dignity, non-discrimination and bodily integrity. The application would go before the President of the Chamber, who would decide whether to list the application or not. The legal team was very optimistic that the application would be listed, as the case was very important internationally and was not one that had come to the ECtHR often, and it was thought that the ECtHR would find the issues of case compelling to look into. The legal team had asked for priority, so once the application was accepted, it should not be delayed so that Caster could get back to running the 800 metres (m) on track.

Once the case was accepted, papers would be served on Switzerland, since the case was titled Caster Semenya v Switzerland, as Switzerland had not given Caster the rights she was entitled to. Thereafter, anybody who wished to be an intervener (amicus) in the court could apply to do so. There had already been support from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Commission for Gender Equality, Parliament, the International Commission of Jurists, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Athlete Ally and the World Medical Association (WMA), with more individuals and organisations lining up to support Caster in her personal fight and her fight for women in athletics.

He had heard Sebastian Coe, the President of IAAF, saying that the IAAF was aiming to have a woman at the top of World Athletics. That was surprising, as the IAAF was a male-dominated body and there had been evidence heard by the legal team of how the IAAF had suppressed women in athletics. Ultimately, the President of the Chamber would have the choice of having a public or private hearing. He believed that the hearing would most likely be public as the case was such a high-profile matter and was important to the world. He said that it was highly unlikely, because of the long process that had to be followed, that Caster would be able to take part in the 400m to 1 500m events at the 2021 Olympics.

#IStandWithCaster Campaign

Ms Motumo took the Committee through the marketing initiatives that Ms Semenya’s management team was putting in place. She said that the legal team was doing great job, but there was need, from a marketing perspective, to have one voice to champion the case for Ms Semenya. Ms Semenya had had national and global support. There were two major things that the campaign had to achieve. Firstly, the campaign had a fundraising element as the legal case against Switzerland had to be funded. The team had been able to raise about R3 million but had a target of about R16 million that would allow for the case to be heard.

The case showcased a disregarding of human rights and a violation of Ms Semenya’s very being. A campaign had to be developed to show that a stand was being taken against that injustice, but also to say that to the world with one voice. The campaign was called the You Can’t Stop Us and I Stand with Caster Campaign; it would be run predominantly on social media, and it was split into three phases. The campaign focused on the issues of racial injustice and discrimination, as well as the treatment of women in sports, and even beyond. Secondly, the campaign sought to encourage people to share their stories, lend a voice, take a stand and make a pledge. The campaign also intended to raise funds for the Caster Semenya Foundation, which helped young, underprivileged girls.

Phase one of the campaign was to launch three t-shirts, each containing a quote of Caster’s on the issue at hand. The message on each shirt would be supported by the hash-tag #IStandWithCaster, and proceeds would go to the Caster Semenya Foundation, with some going to the legal team to continue to case. The outcome of this initiative was to help Caster continue her legacy and build strong young men and women who would stay true to themselves. It would be promoted on the four major social media platforms. An online store would be launched for people to buy the shirts. Relationships with key industry leaders would be utilised, with the team hoping to have those people involved in a video to support the launch and show solidarity for the campaign. International parties had been partnered with. The phase of the campaign had a target of R1 million.

Phase two was an on-the-ground campaign. Due to Covid-19, the team had thought of hosting a digital public event, but since South African had moved back to Alert Level one, an in-person public event may be hosted with industry leaders and influencers to unite the nation and all of Caster’s global supporters. People would be invited to run the 800m with Caster to boldly state that she would always be the 800-metre champion. The event would be followed by a Gala dinner. All Covid-19 regulations would be taken into account. The event could be hosted through the Nike app, so the team may revert to the digital approach. The team was looking to launch Phase two in April.

Corporate parties had been engaged to auction off Caster Semenya memorabilia to raise funds in the case that merchandise could not be given. Ms Motumo said it would be great to get the Ministry’s support for the fundraising initiative and solidarity campaign.

Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) briefing on the developments of the Caster Semenya case

Ms Sumayya Khan, Deputy Director-General: Recreation Development and Sport Promotion, DSAC, took the Committee through the presentation.

The DSAC had taken note of other cases that had gone before the CAS. In 2015, Ms Dutee Chand, an Indian athlete who faced a similar situation to Caster Semenya, won her case in the CAS. This resulted in the CAS suspending the 2011 Regulations. In 2018 the IAAF introduced revised Regulations that restricted the assertion that women with differences of sexual development (DSD) had an unfair advantage to the 400m, 800m and 1 500m races, which were what Caster Semenya ran.

Interventions

Government provided support by establishing a panel of experts during the preparations for the CAS proceedings. The panel was split into legal, medical, social mobilisation and international solidarity work-streams. The legal workstream was constituted by experts in sports law, including Prof Steve Cornelius, who resigned from the IAAF in protest of the unfair regulations. The medial science workstream collected data to dispute the DSD assertion of the IAAF, and was by Dr Phathokuhle Zondi. The social mobilisation and international solidarity workstream constituted officials from the DSAC, and had a core mandate to raise public awareness and mobilise international solidarity about the discriminatory nature of the Regulations and they appeared to specifically target Caster. It was coordinated under the #NATURALLY-SUPERIOR campaign.

Impact

The campaign had a widespread impact. The South African Medial Association (SAMA) was lobbied, following which the WMA condemned the regulations and released a public statement on 29 April 2020 calling all doctors and medical scientists to take no part in the Regulations’ implementation. The WMA demanded the immediate withdrawal of the regulations. The DASC engaged with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to promote global movement. As a result, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution cautioning that the regulations were a contravention of international human rights norms and standards. Further, the Women’s Sports Foundation, African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region five, and the South African Parliament condemned the regulations and sought to mobilise action.

Status quo

After the outcome of the CAS and Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the ASA and the legal team briefed the Minister about the appeal to the ECtHR and requested additional financial support. Subsequently, an additional R12 m was allocated to support the appeal process. The DIRCO met with the DSAC to present that the resolution passed was limited to remain within the mandate of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and to inform the DASC that there was controversy as many conservative countries were aggressively resisting the resolution, as they viewed it to advocate for issues of the LGBTIQ+ community. Positively, the resolution mandated the High Commissioner to conduct a study on the subject matter, which was followed by a report. Following this, South Africa tabled a follow-up resolution at the UNHRC in September 2020, but withdrew it due to a lack of support and criticism from the European Union that it lacked solid grounds. Adequate support could not be mobilised due to South Africa’s non-representation at the UNHRC. Following this, a meeting was convened wherein the SAHRC indicated that it would intervene in the case at the ECtHR, but would be neutral and would have up to 12 weeks to intervene after Ms Semenya’s legal team’s submission. A multi-stakeholder forum team was established to support Ms Semenya.

Expenditure report

In both 2019/20 and 2020/21 Norton Rose Fullbright did not receive any money for its work on the case.

The way forward

The DSAC had resolved to develop a plan of action in collaboration with stakeholders for the approval of political principles. The DSAC had to explore possibilities of engaging the AUSC and other sport bodies outside of the continent.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) Briefing

Mr Dev Maharaj, ASA legal representative, indicated that the ASA viewed its role as supportive of the process. He commented that there was an important distinction between the challenge made by Ms Semenya and that which the ASA was pursuing. However, the challenges were in tandem. As the regulatory body, the ASA felt that it had not been properly consulted on the regulations and it found that the regulations were incompatible with human rights. ASA had taken up the mantle of representing all other affected athletes. ASA was hopeful that other athletic federations would have joined and would intervene as interested parties in the application.

He said that ASA decided not to be an intervening party, and as such, also filed an application directly at the ECtHR on 08 March. He had no doubt that Ms Semenya had raised various violations of her human rights. ASA had taken the stance to also raise those violations, but would attack the basis on which the regulations were formulated, especially the technical aspects of the studies that were conducted and the ethical issues thereof. ASA viewed its attack as being complementary to the human rights issues that were raised by Ms Semenya’s legal team. ASA had filed over 1 000 pages of documents at the ECtHR, which highlighted the transgressions of the ECHR, and cited Switzerland. It was believed that the IAAF had to intervene, and other entities may also intervene.

Usually, cases in the ECtHR were decided on the documentation filed, but ASA was hopeful that given the high profile and significance of the case, it would be given a public oral hearing. ASA was grateful for the ongoing support of the DSAC, and was hopeful that the DSAC could muster support from other African organisations. The rights of African women were affected, so the continent had to speak with one voice. ASA appreciated that the DSAC had taken the initiative to raise other African voices. The ASA was committed to updating the Committee as information was received. He wanted to appeal to the DSAC to use the Olympic Games platform to showcase the transgressions being perpetrated against Caster and other women.

Mr Skhosana commented that the matter had started in 2009. He wanted to thank every Minister that had participated in the matter, as well as the DSAC and the support from Parliament, which had given ASA the power to put the matter on the agenda of World Athletics during the 2019 Congress in Doha. Sweden supported ASA in denouncing the regulations. Many other countries had also supported ASA, and as a result the World Athletics Constitution was being changed and the issue of DSD was being deliberated. The human rights group had done work after that Congress, but that report could not be directly spoken to as it was still to be presented to the World Athletics Council in late March 2021. The report contained serious propositions and recommendations that there should be gender parity, and even a female President.

He wanted to say that Caster was a South African athlete. She needed ASA, and ASA needed her. She had to be an affiliate of ASA. Caster was currently not taking part in the 400m, 800m and 1500m formats. She had tried to do the 200m, but Mr Skhosana thought that she had decided to now do the longer distances races – the ones above 3 000m. If the ruling favoured her, she could then go back to the 800m.

He said that the support of the Minister and the Committee was needed in dealing with the matter. It was not only an athletic matter, but it was also about the issue of the perception of African superiority in athletics. The battle could not be won with the support of the government. He would appreciate if the Minister could accompany ASA when it went to Belgium to present the matter. The work of the government to get the UNHRC involved was significant and it alerted the President of the IAAF to the gravity of the matter while also playing a part in somewhat changing his stance on the issues at hand. The Committee would be updated. The matter had to be fought for all women in Africa, especially those young girls in athletics dealing with issues of DSD. These issues would not be resolved quickly. The baton could not be dropped.

The Chairperson asked the Minister to comment.

Ms Nocawe Mafu, Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, said that the Minister left to attend another meeting. She knew that the Minister would have loved to speak on this matter as he was passionate about it and had given it a lot of support. She commented that there was support from all levels, both from ASA and the DSAC. The Ministry was consulting with both of these entities to ensure that support was not lost. This was not just about Caster; it was a case that went beyond her as it affected human rights. The DSAC was also consulting with DIRCO on the issue to ensure that it sat on the international agenda of every organisation.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked, in vernacular, that the Deputy Minister should switch on her camera when speaking so that the Committee could see her, because she could well be preoccupied with other activities while engaging the Members.

The Chairperson responded to Ms Khawula that it was wrong of her to interject while the Deputy Minister was speaking. She could have raised her hand via the virtual platform feature and wait to be acknowledged by the Committee Chairperson. This is the correct procedure.

Discussion

Mr D Joseph (DA) found it fitting to hear high quality reports from the stakeholders on this issue in Human Rights Month, going into Human Rights Day, and having just celebrated Women’s Day. He asked the Deputy Minister and the DSAC if the Members could receive a copy of the resolution that was passed by the UNHRC. What would the management of the Olympics team do to promote this matter with other countries without compromising the athletic capability of the South African team itself? Where did South Africa stand in the Commonwealth on this issue? Was the Commonwealth just an umbrella body with no teeth, or was there a formal structure that the Commonwealth could make to give its view on the matter? He was very glad to hear all the positive reports that had been presented.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) thanked the DSAC and ASA for continuing its support. As a woman she could see that the case affected all women, as other women had been prohibited for these issues. Caster did not declare herself a woman; she was declared a woman. Ms Malomane did not support the notion that Caster had to take medication to lower her testosterone, as her high testosterone levels were natural. That was how she was born.  

She believed that Caster had to go to the Tokyo Olympic Games. What was ASA doing to enable Caster to go to the Tokyo Olympic Games? She would appreciate if the Minister supported ASA when it made its case. The Committee would continue to support ASA and Caster. Could the t-shirts also be launched in physical stores? The noise made about this has to continue, as the matter was about all women.

Mr M Seabi (ANC) acknowledged the good work done by ASA and the DSAC in ensuring that Caster was supported. The Committee would do everything in its power to fully support the fight. He understood that the ASA was fighting its own case. Would it not compromise the strength of Caster’s personal case at the ECtHR if the two parties fought the matter separately?

Ms Khawula asked Caster Semenya’s manager some questions. She said that there had always been stories trending on social media that were questioning Caster’s gender, even when Caster published that she had gotten a new-born baby with her wife. She needed clarity on how Caster and her wife managed to get the baby – even if it was through a sperm bank or a surrogate mother. This would help her when engaging those who were perpetuating disparaging dialogue about Caster.

The Committee Secretary asked Ms Khawula to change her language settings to isiZulu so that a translation could be provided for the Committee.

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) said that it was sad that the countries, which were perceived as being ahead in terms of promoting and protecting human rights, were actually behind. He asked if there was a possibility of Caster winning the case. Did the bodies that were deemed unbound by international human rights recognise the South African resolution? The resolution was criticised for lacking solid grounds. What did that mean? Globally, had there been a similar case before? What steps would South Africa take if Caster Semenya’s case were to be dismissed?

The Chairperson expressed that the Committee and Parliament was supporting whatever the DSAC and Caster Semenya’s team was doing for this matter. She wanted to make it clear that it was important to the Committee for Caster to take part in the Tokyo Olympic Games, even if it was for the 200m or 5 000m. Any campaign for Caster Semenya would be supported.

Responses

Mr Maharaj responded to the question of the parallel case. He said that ASA was united with the Caster’s legal team and saw its role as complimentary to her personal case. ASA’s case was on policy. ASA believed that the dual attack would enhance the prospects of success rather than undermine it. ASA would obviously like to win the case. He had no doubt that a formidable case would be presented.

He said that the case of Dutee Chand was actually the catalyst for this matter. Her case dealt with the previous regulations. As a result of her case, the CAS ordered the IAAF to revise the regulations and do more research to substantiate the assertion that athletes with DSD were unfairly advantaged. There had been no case on the current regulations.

Mr Bracher, on the prospect of success, said that the case had finally gone before the ECtHR, whose mandate was to protect victims of human rights violations, and the fact that there had been no previous case was to Caster’s advantage as the court would take this case very seriously. There had been marginally similar cases, such as that of a football player who won his discrimination case.

He said one should not look at this as Caster representing Caster only; she was representing women. She was representing a class of people with genetic differences. It was no different to people like Usain Bolt, who had a genetic advantage, or to people from East Africa who had an advantage in long distance running due to genetic differences. She also obviously represented herself, as she was a victim and had been forced to take drugs to keep running. There had been at least five female African athletes whose careers had been destroyed because they had to undergo surgery due to DSD. This was a class action case. He believed they would succeed.

He made it clear that Norton Rose Fullbright had not taken any money in the application. He and Mr Nott had not charged any fees on this matter. They had a Queen’s Council and Junior Council in London, who specialised in mounting cases in European courts, and in dealing with international sports cases. The Canadian lawyers who had been involved in this matter since the Dutee Chand case in 2015 were also involved. Mr Nott had been Caster’s lawyer since 2008/09. If there were an availability of funds, the allocation of that to the case would help a lot in funding the appeal process. A European lawyer was needed to lodge papers at the ECtHR, so the Paris office of Norton Rose Fullbright was also working for free. He was optimistic and believed that the dual case would increase the likelihood of success. They had worked together since the CAS matter and worked well together.

Ms Khan said that the resolution that was passed at the UNHRC would be made available. The case was for all women and was about consistency. The IAAF had been determined in targeting Caster Semenya, but across sport there were people with genetic differences who were not persecuted. There was a swimmer whose feet was abnormal and almost webbed, which gave him an unfair advantage in swimming, yet no one had said anything about dealing with that advantage. By the same token, there had been basketball players who were so tall that had an unfair advantage, but no decision was taken to regulate that, yet Caster Semenya was targeted. If she was prevented from running because of her differences, others, especially men with genetic differences also had to be regulated in a consistent manner. There had to be a landmark decision that got Caster back onto the track and set a precedent, which prevented other athletes, especially women, from going through what Caster was going through.

On the separate cases, she recounted that at the time when the case started, work needed to be done. The sports federations guided the DSAC as to what had to be done to support the legal process and take the case forward.

The Deputy Minister (DM) clarified that when the DSAC decided to fight the case, it was to be done through the three streams that Ms Khan alluded to. A lot had been debated about the legal stream. The medical stream was involved earlier in the case and mobilised the international medical associations to pass a resolution to ensure that no doctor gave the relevant medication to athletes. The social mobilisation stream had to be strengthened, especially internationally, to ensure that as the legal team was fighting its case, people were aware and making a noise. The Minister had had a meeting with DIRCO to be able to interact with the Commonwealth and the United Nations. The resolution passed at the UNHRC was done through the Ambassador and DIRCO. That became critical, as the UNHRC resolution would assist the legal teams in the ECtHR.

On the prospects of the case, the DM said that as the route was now one of human rights, the prospects were much better than the prior case in the CAS and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. The marketing of Caster Semenya had to works in line with the DSAC social mobilisation for solidarity so that the fight was not separate. One voice had to be used.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for closing off discussion on the Caster Semenya case. She wanted to also thank Mr Cornelius for his actions regarding the matter. She was happy that Parliament was behind what the DSAC, the Committee, and the legal teams were doing. She greatly appreciated that Norton Rose Fullbright was taking the case forward pro bono. That was ubuntu. She thanked everyone involved in the Caster Semenya case and said she looked forward to working with everyone involved. The Committee was determined to address the issue of gender inequality, particularly in sports. She allowed the management team and ASA to leave the meeting.

Follow-up questions

Ms Khawula pointed out that each Member of the Committee had a constituency that they represented and had to account to. She was thus disappointed to see the Caster’s manager being released from the meeting before she responded to the questions Ms Khawula had asked about Caster’s sexuality. Although she supported Caster, there were questions that she could not respond to, within her constituency. She reiterated the question she had asked.

There was an English translation for her second question: she asked what was being done to mobilise people to fight for other people who were being abused and oppressed like Ms Semenya?

The Chairperson felt that Ms Khawula should have stopped her before those involved in the two legal cases were released, so that they could have answered the questions. She noted that the DSAC knew what was going on and asked the Deputy Minister to give input on this matter.

Responses

The Deputy Minister responded by saying that in sport, everyone was supported, whether like Caster Semenya or not. The talent and potential had to be promoted. If people were not being supported, they must be identified and brought to the DSAC so that action can be taken.

On the question of the fertility eggs, the DM said that DSAC could not respond to that, as that was personal to each and every person. However, that question could be taken to Ms Semenya’s management, who could decide to respond in writing or not.

The Chairperson said that the Members respond to things that were brought to before the Committee. The DSAC would keep the Committee informed. The Committee could not respond to those whose issues were brought directly and individually to the Committee. But if these people’s issues were brought to the Committee it could be dealt with, and the ASA could even be engaged to consult with them. The issue of the fertility eggs was a very personal one.  People should not be made to use drugs to change their nature and who they were. It was known that Caster was born a girl, and Caster, her family, and her doctors had to be the ones to deal with the issue of the hormone drugs.

Mr Seabi requested that Ms Khawula’s questions were responded to in English.

The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that interpretation was available and could be done through the Zoom platform.

Consideration and adoption of Committee meeting minutes

The Chairperson took the Committee through the draft minutes of 02 March 2021. She asked the Members to present their amendment suggestions before the minutes could be adopted.

Mr Joseph thanked the staff for preparing the minutes. He wanted to know if it was possible for the minutes to reflect what decisions the Committee had made or what resolutions it had taken. That would assist the staff in tracking what resolutions were made.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Joseph and noted his point.

The Members adopted the minutes.

The Chairperson asked to the Members to deal with matters arising.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) was concerned that some Members, such as Mr B Mamabolo (ANC), were not contributing to the discussions in the meeting and were only in the meeting to tick the attendance box. He commented that Mr Mamabolo was not present in the meeting at that moment.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary if Mr Mamabolo was present, who said that he was not.

Mr Seabi commented that it had to be noted that sometimes Members had issues with connectivity, especially in the Northern Cape and Limpopo. He knew that some Members would join the meeting and get kicked out a few times due to poor connection. Mr Mamabolo had been present but was always leaving and coming back due to connectivity. It should not just be concluded that Members were coming to the meetings only to tick the attendance box. Members could not be forced to speak if they had nothing to say. For example, Mr Mhlongo said nothing during the discussion for the first report.

Ms Malomane agreed with Mr Seabi. She said that Mr Mamabolo usually did speak and contribute to the meetings.

Mr Mhlongo thought that the Committee Secretary or the other staff members would be able to inform the Members if Mr Mamabolo had the issue of constantly being kicked out of the meeting. He said that the last annexure, stating that the Committee requested Basketball South Africa to submit documents, had to have a prescribed turnaround period, and if Basketball South Africa failed to meet that period the matter had to be escalated. That would be the way to manage or monitor those reports and requests from the Committee.

Mr Seabi wanted to emphasise that it would be easy to track and deal with matters arising if the resolutions of the Committee were captured in the minutes.

The Chairperson told the Members that the staff would implement the proposals. She would try to supervise and monitor that in the future.

DSAC Covid-19 Relief Fund update

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Director-General, DSAC, said that there would be two presentations. The first would focus on the first, second and third phases of the Covid-19 Relief Funding. The second presentation would focus on the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP).

Dr Cynthia Khumalo, DDG: Arts, Culture Promotion and Development, DSAC, took the Committee through the first presentation, on the three phases of the Covid-19 Relief Funding.

Problem statement

The DSAC implemented several interventions and initiatives as part of the sector relief efforts to deal with Covid-19. Some of these interventions were as follows:

  • Phase one Relief Funding launched in April 2020;
  • Phase two Relief Funding launched in August/September 2020 and included a DSAC/Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) partnership of equal contributions to the Relief Funding that was launched in October 2020; a partnership with the Solidarity Fund to disburse food vouchers in the Sport and Arts sectors; and the implementation of the PESP that was geared towards job retention and job creation.

When the President announced a return to Alert Level three due to the resurgence of the second wave of Covid-19, the DSAC had to develop a strategy that would continue to bring relief to the sector.

Phase-one Relief

The DASC had received a total number of 5 786 applications. By the end of October 2020, the DSAC had finalised the process of disbursing the Relief Funding to 4 910 recommended beneficiaries. A total of 4 166 recommended beneficiaries were paid. The discrepancy between the 4 910 and 4 166 was due to duplicate recommended beneficiaries. It had become apparent that some people had sent more than one application out of desperation. The DASC ended phase one having paid about R80 m.

The second tranche payment of the digitisation proposals that were part of the phase one relief was being finalised. The digitisation proposals enabled cultural activity or entertainment people to submit project proposals that could be done online via live streaming, over a number of months. This particular Relief Funding was not once off. There were 156 outstanding second tranche payments to the amount of roughly R3.453 m. The DASC was reminding beneficiaries of the first tranche payments to submit their narrative reports for these outstanding payments to be made.

Phase-two Relief

Going into phase two and considering the lessons learnt from phase one and the special audit report issues by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA), more stringent criteria and conditions were put in place. As a result, of the 2 627 and 356 completed applications for the creatives and the Sports Trust respectively, only 599 and 88 were eligible. The total number applications paid, as of February 2021, was 366 and 86, respectively. Some of the applicants were not classified as eligible or ineligible due to continuous feedback from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). One such feedback was received from SASSA on 05 March 2021. SASSA had exhibited a very slow turnaround time. But this process of verification had to be done to eliminate double dipping. There had been issues with some beneficiaries not submitting the necessary documents timeously. About R3 m for both the creatives and the Sports Trust had been paid.

The DSAC contributed equally with the DSBD for its partnership funding. This funding was ringfenced for the craft and visual arts sectors, and for the sectors that fell under the multimedia cultural domain. It was implemented through the different provincial implementing agencies. Challenges had been experienced, particularly in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The agency in Limpopo had to halt the process to prioritise its audit, but had since tried to catch up with implementation. In Mpumalanga, the agency followed an advertising procedure that was contrary to what was initially prescribed and as such, had to begin the process again, which it had. The amount paid of R345 000 for Mpumalanga was based on the applications made in relation to the incorrect advertisement. It was agreed that those applications be processed as the fault did not lie with the applicants. Dr Khumalo made a correction in relation to the North West, where the total approved amount should have been about R1.84 m and the total amount paid should have been R459 500.

For the Solidarity Fund, the DASC had been given the opportunity to get 10 000 food vouchers. As of 05 March, the DASC had provided the Solidarity Fund with 9 928 beneficiaries, of which 6 928 were accepted. Acceptance was based on whether the information provided was complete; the person fell within the scope of the creative or sports sectors. A total of 6 928 beneficiaries were paid an amount of about R4.85 m. The vouchers were R700 cash food vouchers. The Solidarity Fund had given the DASC the chance to submit another 3 000 beneficiaries by 15 March to reach the 10 000 allocation. This was done through sector organisations, provinces, and provincial structures within the creative and sports sectors.

Other strengthening initiatives

The DASC adopted an integrated approach with the DSBD, Department of Communications and Technologies (DCDT), and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and set up a committee to deal with issues of the funding model, consolidating government interventions, local content and economic recovery. The DASC had engaged with SARS to implement exemptions that would enable some of the stringent criteria, which was excluding a number of beneficiaries to be removed in phase three. The return to play of sport was in line with the health and safety regulations.

Lessons learnt

There had been issues of double dipping, slow responses to the call, tax compliance, other types of grants paying money which did not match the amount received from this Relief Funding, long adjudication and response time, and the ineffective dissemination of information and lack of marketing that was being improved on.

Phase-three

The DASC went into phase three with about R74.93 m. This amount should decrease as the outstanding payments from phase two were made. As of 24 February 2021, 6 026 applications had been made from the arts sector and 403 applications had been made from the sports sector. Both sets included applications from both individuals and organisations. After duplicate applications were removed, the total number of applications from the arts sector was 4 980. In terms of the adjudication process, as of 08 March 2021, a total of 2 915 applications had been adjudicated, with 1 592 of those having been accepted. Follow-ups were done for applications with incomplete documentation. The sports sector was going through the verification process. Dr Khumalo believed that the process of adjudication had commenced, but Ms Khan could confirm that.

DSAC on the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme

Mr Ndima said that there would be three presenters to take the Committee through the PESP presentation.

Dr Khumalo started by broadly discussing the projects covered by the PESP. She said that with the funding allocation from National Treasury, the DSAC was able to implement various projects under the different programmes of the DSAC.

Programme two: Sport and Recreation

National Treasury approved two projects, one of which dealt with the appointment of inspectors and compliance officers as implemented by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). The second project was that of job retention and creation in the sports sector implemented by the Sports Trust.

Programme three: Arts and Culture

The appointment of artists in the public art space was being done through the provincial museums and agencies. Artbank was implementing a placement and commission work project. The National Art Council (NAC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) were implementing the project dealing with job retention and creation in the creative sector. Lastly, artists were being supported by the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) to enhance their growth.

Programme four: Heritage

There had been three projects, but two had been combined into one; that one was the digitisation of heritage assets by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), which covered the areas of the library resources as well as the archives. The second project was the national audit of heritage sources and was being implemented by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

SASCOC and Sports Trust – Programme two update

Ms Khan dealt with the SASCOC and Sports Trust projects as per programme two. Dr Khumalo had mentioned the two projects. She said that when the DSAC reported on Programme two, it had to talk about the purpose of the grant, from where the data would be obtained, produce a portfolio of evidence, indicate if there were any limitations, and how the DSAC would then have to get an assessment and calculation of the performance of those in the portfolio of evidence. This process was similar for both SASCOC and the Sports Trust.

Sports Trust

The Sports Trust was involved with job retention, so R60m was allocated. A first instalment of R15.2m had been transferred. As per the agreement, entities had to be used, so there were programme administration costs. The maximum that could be allocated for those costs was 10%, but the Sports Trust agreed to take only 8%. The net budget for the job retention subsidy was about R13.985m. A total of 5 083 jobs had been retained, to the amount of R13.083m. The people who service the sports sector are mostly volunteers. Many organisations employed a small number of people, and their funding came from membership fees and money made from events. During Covid-19, there was no income, which meant people were being retrenched or kept on half-salary. Although there was a target of retaining 4 000 jobs, 5 083 jobs were retained. As of 31 January, R901 000 still had to be spent on 257 job retentions.

The Sports Trust was given another R22.4m in January 2021. In January and February 2021, the amount spent on job retentions was R20.608m; 53 organisations reports were received and verified in December 2020, and in January payments of R5.201 m was released for 1486 job retentions. As of 08 February, the balance was R8.783m and six organisations’ reports had to be received and verified. As of March, there was still some funding of about R876 000 that still needed to be paid. The balance of funds for January and February was R15.407m. The number of jobs retained fell short of 5 090 and was only 5 083.

Over 50% of the database with individual geographic and demographic information had been captured and would be shared with the DSAC upon completion of the project; 49 out of 51 organisations were paid for January. Internal verification for the December reports had been concluded barring the two outstanding organisations. January payments were released from 22 January, upon verification of the first payments’ reports compliance.

There were challenges of beneficiaries being substituted due to resignations. One beneficiary was identified as being fraudulent, with the party receiving proof of payment for services and realising that the invoice received was fraudulent. Some organisations had used part of the funds to buy beneficiaries groceries without the beneficiaries’ approval. In response to these challenges, certain solutions were implemented. Supporting documents were requested from the concerned organisations. An internal investigation was conducted, and the organisation was suspended, and the concerned individual resigned, but the beneficiaries were not affected, as the mother body would pay them directly. The concerned organisations were requested to stop buying groceries immediately. These issues were picked up in time.

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)

SASCOC was involved with the appointment of inspectors and compliance officers. The amount spent at that time was about R2.2 m. There were some transfer challenges, but the DSAC had managed to address those. The budget was R51 m, with about R21 m having been transferred to SASCOC by the DSAC. The amount transferred had been paid to the beneficiaries. The compliance officers were paid R8 000 per month and the inspectors were paid R7 000 per month.

For job retention in terms of the Sports Trust, the beneficiaries for R3 500 per month, but for golf it was R2 175 per month. The reason for the lower golf rate was because it was targeted at caddies, who worked on a per-event basis, and were thus without any income during lockdown. It was suggested to focus on paying all caddies rather than paying only a few of them R3 500 per month.

For job creation for SASCOC, the DSAC had hoped to create 1 400 jobs. SASCOC received 300 applications from the federations and 313 applications from the provincial sports councils; 326 applications were adjudicated from the federations, but only 276 were approved. The South African Football Association (SAFA) sent in 46 applications, but none were approved, and 11 of the applications had outstanding documentation. The sports confederations had almost complied fully, with the Free State sports confederation applications still needing to be adjudicated.

Non-compliance of applications was mostly due to missing Identification Documents (IDs) and Curriculum Vitae, and with Boxing South Africa, it was an entity, thus not classified as a federation, but was being treated differently. Further, there were missing endorsements and applications that did not go through the federations. Follow-ups would be done to obtain the information. About 79% of Free State, 51% of Western Cape, and 96% of KwaZulu-Natal applications were document compliant.

Quantitative and qualitative reports for SASCOC

There were processes being done to look at provincial spread and the demographical segmentation of the beneficiaries; 312 applications had been approved and 62 were subject to receiving outstanding documentation. A marketing and communication plan had been implemented to improve the number of applications, and there was continued telephone communications with the federations and confederations. There was communication around the finalisation of payment dates. Most of that issue had been resolved. There were timelines set by the President, and some of those timelines and the approvals affected the DSAC’s timeline, so the target of completing the applications before the end of 2020 was impacted. Discussions would happen with the federations and the confederations to let them assist in obtaining the outstanding documentation; 284 applications with outstanding documentation still had to be adjudicated. The challenges had been sorted out by the DSAC and SASCOC, with the beneficiaries being paid by SASCOC.

Update on Programme three

Dr Khumalo took the Members through the four projects under programme three.

Banking with art – Artbank South Africa

National Treasury had allocated R4m for the public art programme. The project was divided into the placement programme and the commissioning programme. There was a target of 56 placements for the placement programme, where creatives were placed in different institutions within the sector in order to create jobs. There was a target of 100 commissions for the commissioning programme. There were 94 beneficiaries participating in the commissioning programme as of 26 February. The commissioning programme related more to the visual artists, who were given the opportunity to produce their work.

About 85% of the first tranche transferred to the National Museum had been paid and those unpaid were yet to submit reports as they were placed late to replace those who had resigned. There had been resignations, but they had been replaced and other candidates would be paid retrospectively. There had been delayed payments due to reports or invoices not being submitted. About R1.743 m had been paid to beneficiaries to date. Each beneficiary was paid between R3 500 and R5 700, depending on his/her skills and qualifications.

Public art – towards people’s culture

This project was being implemented mostly through provincial museums and was going to be done in February and March 2021, as the allocation had been reduced from about R30m to about R9m. The project was spread across the provinces according to the R9m budget to ensure all the beneficiaries received equitable payments. National Treasury had disallowed certain implementing agencies, so the DSAC was running the risk of losing 120 jobs. A large number of applications were not relevant to the programme. Most of the implementing agencies were going through transitional periods, and there had been issues with receiving the correct council documentation. Those documents should be received in the current week. The DSAC legal unit was being engaged to expedite the process. Expenditure would likely increase by the end of March. The beneficiaries were paid between R4 200 and R4 500 per month.

National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF)

The NFVF was allocated R140m for job retention and creation, with R40 m directed at job retention and R100m directed at job creation; 5% of the budget was set aside for administration costs. The NFVF went out on an open call on 31 October, and the application period closed on 10 December 2021. The approach was divided into production, training and skills, industry/marketing, and business rescue streams. A total of 891 applications were adjudicated by 04 February 2021. The NFVF had been able to surpass its job retention and creation target of 8 000 by approving an allocation of 8 977 jobs. Beneficiaries were currently being contracted, and the implementation was envisioned to begin by the middle of March.

The total number of jobs retained and created was for stream one was 6 397, with a budget of about R84.534 m. Stream two had a budget of about R22.513 million, and 1 200 jobs had been retained and created for that; 705 jobs had been retained and created for stream three, which had a budget of R12.950 million; 675 jobs were retained and created for stream four, which had a budget of about R13.002 million. A trend that had been picked up was that participation in some provinces was extremely low, hence the engagements with those provinces.

National Arts Council (NAC)

The NAC project was allocated a total of R300m, which was broken down into two streams. Stream one was directed at supporting job retention and was allocated R100m. Stream two was directed at job creation and was allocated R200m.

Mr Mhlongo raised point of order that there was only 50 minutes left to debate the four important presentations. He said that the Committee could not perform oversight effectively if there was only 40 minutes to engage with the information.

The Chairperson asked Dr Khumalo to summarise the information in the presentation.

Dr Khumalo continued to say that the NAC had approved a total of 1 215 applications, thus creating 24 935 jobs. The NAC had paid out a total grant value of about R252.466 m. The War Room would shift to phase two, ensuring that no successful applicants had fallen through the cracks. Phase three of the War Room process would look at the appeals processes for the PESP applications.

The South African Cultural Observatory (SACO)

The SACO project was aimed at enabling artists to adapt to the new normal and confront the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) challenges head on, by providing them with marketing skills and business growth strategies. This project was allocated R30 m. National Treasury only gave the DSAC approval to use SACO on 10 February, based on an existing assignment SACO had with the DSAC. The project would mostly cover those provinces with the least beneficiaries from the other projects. The project had to be finalised by 31 March

Digitisation of archival records, newspapers, and magazines

Mr Ndima said the NLSA and the National Archives of South Africa (NASA) were doing this project. The idea of the project was to appoint 320 people to do this work. The budget was R60 m. There had been delays in the project due to a disagreement on the indemnity clause in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that had been signed. This disagreement had been resolved. The target number of 163 beneficiaries could not be reached due to resignations and offers not being accepted, as the stipend was only R5 700 per month. The appointed beneficiaries were on site and preparing significant records to be digitised.

Audit of heritage resources progress report

This project was aimed at identifying statues from the colonial and apartheid eras. There was a budget of R10 m. There had been a target of 260 beneficiaries, but only 255 were approved by 28 February. This number had increased from 169 at the end of January. Recruitment had improved from 93% to 99% from 15 February to 28 February; 676 sites had been recorded and 417 had been approved as of 28 February.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that too much information had been given and the meeting had to end soon. She asked the Members to engage with the presentations.

Mr Mhlongo said that the report was not clear; figures were twisted and were unclear. He said that when consolidation was done the balances were not even added to. He put it to the Chairperson that he had written to the Minister, who responded by saying that the books were audited. His written question to the Minister was dated 14 February 2021, but the presentation was made after that date. There were contradictions. He highlighted that it was apparent that the DSAC was hiding information. An example of this was on slide three of the Relief Funding phases presentation, where roughly R80 million was paid for the 4 480 applications, including those for sports, and there were 133 duplicates. Slide four was saying that about R44 m was paid for 682 applications in three tranches for digital projects. Could the DSAC confirm what he was saying? If not, he would take it up from there.

He said that Dr Khumalo had spoken about the hype of the media. It was clear that there were issues at the NAC, even with the new council. There was one thing that the media hype focused on, and the presentation made it seem that that the NAC did not respond on that matter. That meeting was dated 01 March 2021. He wanted a list of all of those who were paid, and how much of them were paid in each tranche.

He felt that the PESP presentation was not clear. It was evident that there were no consultations for the PESP. Was stream one completed? How much was paid? On the second stream, he wanted a list of all of those who were contracted, those who were announced, their letters, and the amounts. Could the Members get the list of the 1 300 PESP beneficiaries? When would the payments be finalised? Were they already finalised? Were all the contractors paid? When would the contracts be finalised? When would the rejected applicants be notified?

Double dipping was clear. It was reported that one of the contractors, who paid someone who was not doing diligent work, was identified because of double dipping. Fraud had been identified. Was there a case number for the fraudulent transaction? Could the Members be given that case number? What happened to the fraudulent party, and what was the name of that organisation?

There was a contradiction on slides 19-21 of the PESP presentation. This contradiction needed to be spoken to, as the Minister responded differently on that matter than was reported in the presentation. Why was information being hidden from the Committee? Was there also an external audit or was there only an internal audit, for phases one, two, and three of the Relief Funding, as said by the Minister?

The Chairperson said that Mr Mhlongo had too many questions. She suspected that there might not be time to ask long questions. She asked the Members to ask questions more quickly to allow everyone to ask questions.

Ms Malomane asked if the adjudication panel had remained the same throughout all the phases in the process of evaluating the applications. She asked how many jobs were preserved in the PESP. Could the DSAC provide the Committee with the recovery plan for the sector? Artists participating in the sit-in at the NAC offices had made demands, many of which, as reported by the media, were not responded to. Could the Committee be provided with information on that issue so that the Members could give answers when asked about it? When will the council publish a full list of the beneficiaries, the projects that had been awarded, and how much had been paid?

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) asked if the DSAC had intervened in the staged sit-in at the NAC offices. The media had reported that a ministerial advice team had been appointed. What criteria were used by the DSAC to select that team? Had the DSAC had a proper consultation with the cultural industry? If so, how was that done? What was the allocated budget? There was a project aimed at workstream two. Was this a new tender, or would it be done by the same advertising agency that had received a contract for almost R50 m for advertising in November 2019? If it was the same service provider, what had they done so far? Why was it necessary to create yet another wellness workstream? If it was a new provider, what would they be doing differently, and will another tender be put out? Should the fact that artists cannot put food on the table not be prioritised by the DSAC?

She noted that contracts had been signed with 613 artists who had started with their projects. There was an issue with the contracts. What were the legal implications? How would the DSAC support the artists in this regard, as they may face legal consequences for not honouring their contracts with other artists in the industry? She proposed that the Committee request a legal opinion on the breach of those contracts.

The NAC was not clear on the difference on the PESP being a stimulus programme and the Relief Fund. Had the stimulus programme been reduced to a Relief Fund? How were the applications assessed? The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the NAC had been suspended for issues relating to the PESP funding. Could the DSAC provide the exact reasons for the suspensions? Could the DSAC also confirm if there was an Acting Chairperson of the council? If not, why? There were rumours that the suspensions were due to the completion for personal reasons. The Committee had to know. There were rumours that someone received R11 m that they should not have and companies not in the arts sector received money. Could the DSAC respond to these matters as soon as possible?

Mr R Adams (ANC) asked the DSAC to give clarity on why 4 166 payments, including 319 for sport, were made. Slide eight of the Relief Funding presentation, on phase two, indicated that Mpumalanga restarted the application process. Why did it do so? Slide nine indicated that the DSAC received 6 819 applications, but only paid 3 658 beneficiaries. Could an explanation be given for that? There had to be an explanation for the outstanding applications.

How were risk applicants assessed if some were not paid? Could the DSAC explain the double dipping, as indicated on slide 12? Could the DSAC explain the different figures in slide 13 in the actual amount incurred and available amount? Was it responsible of the entities to apply on behalf of the athletes as indicated in slide 16, or could the athletes do so themselves?

Mr Seabi said that the process for phase three of the Relief Funding was slow, so it seemed apparent that lessons were not learnt. This intervention was meant to be urgent, but the slow approval process undermined the urgent nature of the measure and meant that some beneficiaries would be irritated. The Members had been told that the recently appointed board suspended the CEO and CFO for how they managed the PESP. Could the Members get more information about that?

He asked how many jobs, in total, had been preserved by the PESP to date. The report spoke about creating new jobs. Was the PESP meant to create new jobs, or preserve existing jobs, or both? The benefits seemed to be so minimal that some people were rejecting the offers. Did the DSAC think this was a good intervention to assist beneficiaries?

Mr Madlingozi asked what criteria were used for artists to be afforded live streaming opportunities. What was meant by ineligible applications? What was ineligible? He commented that artists had resorted to protests. The DSAC had to engage with the artists to come up with a solution. Was the DSAC going to ignore the basic needs of the artists just because they were not tax compliant? What would the DSAC do to salvage the lives of those people who could not receive the benefits?

The Chairperson asked the DSAC to respond to the questions.

Responses

Mr Ndima requested that the DSAC be allowed to provide written answers for the questions that could not be answered properly. He indicated that the DSAC was at the meeting to present the information to the Committee genuinely and transparently. If there was twisting of figures, that was not the intention. It had to be made clear that the measures were implemented to deal with emergencies, so the measures were not planned for the long term, as the long-term challenges could not be anticipated.

On the issue of tax compliance, he explained that this was a big problem during phase one of Relief Funding. It had to be noted that the DSAC was operating within the parameters of the law. During phase one, the ineligibility came as a result of no tax compliance or registration. The DSAC could not have broken the law and given money where there was no compliance, or where basic information such as IDs was not given. The DSAC had pleaded with SARS to relax the restrictions it had made, thus in phase three the requirement was moved from tax compliance to tax registration, which was easier to satisfy.

He responded that the PESP had arrived in the middle of the crisis, so it was not only about job creation, but also about job retention. He said that he needed guidance on how much detail he could give regarding the suspension of the CEO, as it was not known where that matter would go. He said that the council would have to release list of all projects. The DSAC had met with council and would expect the list to be published so that the process became transparent as it was meant to be.

Dr Khumalo responded to Mr Mhlongo’s questions first. She said that the figures reported in slide three were those that had actually been tallied and audited externally by the AG. The process of adjudication for phase three was ongoing. Phases one and two applications had been paid and the DSAC could reveal the list of those beneficiaries. The number of 5 786 reflected the total applications received, including the 500 sport applications. The report intended to show how many were recommended and paid. In the process of adjudication, there were duplications. As indicated, when the verification process was done those duplicates were set aside. This informed the R84 million.

Slide three included the digitisation project proposals. Slide four broke down the makeup of digitisation project proposals beneficiaries. A list of those beneficiaries could be provided to the Committee. The report indicated how many of the 341 beneficiaries had submitted their last reports and were thus also paid the second tranche payment. Details could be published on how much these beneficiaries were paid.

She said that Ms Khan would respond to the question of double dipping. She was unsure of the question on slides 19 to 21 on the PESP. On the question of the audit, she could confirm that the AG did an audit of phase one and had asked the DSAC to submit reports on phase two. The audit of phase two was ongoing. The phase-three audit would be done when the AG scheduled it. Internal and external audits had been conducted and would be conducted going forward.

On Ms Malomane’s questions, she responded that the adjudication panels did not stay the same. They reflected new members as well as old members from phase one, to ensure institutional understanding. This continued into phase three. The presentation provided the number of jobs created and retained per project. The DSAC could consolidate that information and provide the total number of jobs created and retained.

DSAC had worked on the recovery plan and produced short- to medium-term interventions. Long-term measures were being looked at and a cultural and creative masterplan was being finalised; it would provide for those long-term measures. The DSAC could provide information on the recovery plan.

She then responded to Ms Van Dyk’s questions. On the ministerial advisory team, she explained that the approach had been consultative, whereby different sector organisations identified key people to make up the team. The team was made up of five streams, including wellness. When the DSAC engaged with the sector organisations it was agreed that wellness would be part of the process. The approach was an integrated one, where the DSAC worked closely with the wellness portfolio. It was not a new tender; it was the same one that Ms Van Dyk referred to. It was important to have the close participation of the sector when it was rolled out. The advisory team went beyond looking at the issues of wellness. Even though money was important, wellness was equally important in the eyes of the DSAC. The workstreams looked at other challenges faced by people in the sector, ranging from their inability to meet obligations, the payment of school fees. The issues around how the private and corporate sector could be brought on board were looked at in order to sustain the livelihoods of the arts and sports practitioners. The team was looking at the challenges comprehensively.

She asked for clarity on Ms Adams’ questions as they pertained to each relevant slide. The DSAC could provide clarity on the information in those slides.

On the DSAC, DSBD partnership, and the provincial challenges faced in the rollout of the project, she indicated that in Limpopo, the issue was that the agency’s audit had to be prioritised, but since the audit was completed the relief had been rolled out. That was indicated in the presentation. In Mpumalanga, as indicated, the agency had begun advertising before the time that was agreed with all the implementing agencies. Hence, the agency had been asked to withdraw the advertisement. They had since commenced a new compliant process. In that regard, the DSAC had to deal with the few applicants who had applied in the initial period. For the North West, as she had mentioned, the figure of R1.8 m had to come before that of R159 000. She said that Ms Khan would discuss the matter of the entities applying for the athletes.

On the slowness of phase three, Mr Seabi’s comment was noted. She said the DSAC had tried its best to improve the process. It was now the second week after the closing date. The first week had been used for clearance purposes. A number of applicants had used the email option to send the application, which took longer to deal with. The process was now at the adjudication stage. The turnaround times would be improved on, whilst ensuring that proper processes were adhered to.

On the issue of jobs, she explained that the purpose of the PESP was both job creation and job retention. When the PESP was allocated, there were clear guidelines on the budget for job creation and job retention. She asked Mr Ndima to deal with the question of whether the amount paid to each beneficiary was adequate.

On the matter raised by Mr Madlingozi, she said that there were specific criteria used for the digitisation project proposal applicants. The conditions were mainly that the applicant had to show cause that they would be able to undertake the project online via live streaming. The projects put forward were very interesting. Detail on the criteria could be provided if necessary.

On the ineligible applications, some people who were not part of the sector had applied. Thus, the DSAC had requested that a referral was provided to verify that the applicant was in the sector. Some people had tried to be opportunists. The DSAC agreed that tax compliance was a stringent condition, hence it had engaged with SARS and had the condition shifted to merely tax registration for phase three. The engagements with SARS actually went beyond that, and SARS had given the DSAC a link that would allow applicants to get a response within 24 to 48 hours. That link was included in the calls for applications, to assist particular applicants in accessing that service as part of the agreed exemption with SARS.

The Chairperson proposed that Mr Ndima’s request to respond to some questions with written answers be taken up. She wanted to say that as a Committee, it had to be said that there were huge amounts of money given to the NAC and the NFVF. Could the Committee take an oversight to avoid reliance on the media alone? She said that the remaining minutes would be given to the Minister.

Mr Mhlongo asked what the decision was on unanswered questions. What was stopping the DSAC from saying that some questions were unclear and not responding to those questions?

The Chairperson said that Mr Ndima had indicated the DSAC’s desire to respond in writing. She asked if the responses could be individually directed to the Members before the end of the week. She wanted those questions to be forwarded to her, so she could monitor this.

Minister’s parting remarks

The Minister thanked the Chairperson, the Members and the DSAC. He agreed that further explanation would clarify the unclear matters and written responses should be given.

On the new council of the NAC and the fact that currently artists were staging a sit-in at NAC offices, he reckoned that it would be fair to say that the new council got into office when the process started, and it had identified challenges that it was best positioned to deal with. The council was dealing with the challenges. It had appealed that when it was appointed there was no money. The PESP funding was R300 m, but the NAC had approved applications of over R600 m. The council felt that the CEO and CFO were not assisting the issues and decided to suspend them. The council had committed itself to continually brief the public, including those artists involved in the sit-in. The only thing the council would not do was get into meetings every day when it had to process payments. The council was doing that. Concerns were being raised about that process, but the council should be assisted and given the opportunity to work in order to improve the situation.

On the ministerial advisory team, he said that the process was simple. An open-ended consultation with the industry was called. No one was excluded. The industry members came forward with issues. Subsequently, the team made rules for itself as the sector. One of the rules was to identify people whose organisations had national footprints and forward those names to the Minister. The ministry would continue to work with the team to deal with the plight of artists in the country.

Chairperson’s closing remarks

The Chairperson thanked the Minister. She asked the staff to articulate the questions. She said she would assist with this. The questions could be emailed. She would want copies of the answers to those questions to be given so that the administration of the Committee could give the answers to all the Members. She thanked everyone present in the meeting for attending.

Ms Adams indicated that she would forward her questions to the Committee Secretary to clarify the questions and receive responses.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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