More questions than answers on Mzansi Orchestra formation

Issued by Veronica van Dyk MP – DA Deputy Shadow Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture
18 Sep 2022 in News

The DA is concerned with the lack of transparency involving the R54-million Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (MNPO) which appeared before Parliament’s oversight committee on Sport, Arts and Culture on Friday, 16 September.

The absence of a feasibility study for which R1 million of taxpayers’ money was allocated and the lack of evidence that professional musicians and orchestra administrators from various communities in South Africa were indeed consulted, are concerning.

The formation of a National Philharmonic Orchestra was included in the revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage that the Cabinet approved in August 2018. However, there was no detail given about the Mzansi NPO in the Department’s annual performance plan, nor was the portfolio committee of sports, arts and culture informed of the establishment of the orchestra.

Friday’s portfolio committee meeting with presentations by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), the National Arts Council (NAC) and MNPO CEO and director Bongani Tembe on the formation of the orchestra was vague with little new information, leaving more questions than answers.

For months now the DA has tried to get as much information as possible about the MNPO to no avail. The DA believes the R54 million could have been better spent on the already established orchestras in the country, especially without a proper business plan for the newly established orchestra and exactly how government funds are being used. Bongani Tembe refused to answer the committee’s questions on what he regarded as personal, despite the fact that the orchestra is funded with public money.

The arts and culture sectors have suffered terribly under Minister Mthethwa and the NAC – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot allow more taxpayer money to be poured down the drain with another failed project.

Despite the DA’s countless questions, most answers were not responded to. Since no clear answers were received, the DA will write to the committee to get the facts in writing. We will pursue this matter until the whole processes surrounding the formation of the MNPO are transparent. We will hold the DSAC, NAC and MNPO accountable.