Speaker must investigate poor responses regarding National Orchestra

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

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Veronica van Dyk MP.

The DA has requested that the Speaker of the National Assembly intervene in two matters currently affecting the parliamentary portfolio for sport, arts and culture.

The first matter revolves around the poor responses received from the CEO of the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (MNPO), Bongani Tembe, on behalf of the National Arts Council (NAC) on outstanding questions regarding the orchestra. These questions were submitted via the portfolio committee after a committee meeting.

These sub-standard, arrogant responses on critical questions, hinder members’ ability to do proper oversight. The DA wrote to the chairperson of the committee, Beauty Dlulane, on 19 October 2022 and the letter was then submitted to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), but three weeks later there has been no feedback.

The second issue is that the Department and the CEO seems to have intentionally misled the committee. Despite Tembe and DSAC’s claims to the committee, the CEO of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Louis Heyneman, wrote a letter stating that he was not part of the MNPO feasibility team, which was submitted to the committee before the meeting. The fact that DSAC and the MNPO CEO continues to assert that he was, is very concerning. The DA has requested the Speaker to investigate this matter.

There seems to be a trend of misinformation or partially presented information, and given the fact that the MNPO is funded by public money, the DA expects Bongani Tembe and DSAC to show more respect for Parliament’s efforts to hold them accountable. Given the large number of existing orchestras and the huge number of other deserving arts and culture projects, government funding is a privilege, not a right. It is extremely concerning that neither DSAC nor the CEO has provided the committee with the feasibility study for which a R1 million was allocated to create strategic and business plans.

The MNPO’s presentation to the committee lacked detailed information on outcomes, outputs, and targets. It indicated that “A copy of the budget for the next three years is available for view in the following pages” but the information was not included in the presentation. The Committee still has not received the information.

R54,7 million of taxpayer money has already been paid over to the MNPO and there is no way to do proper oversight over this newly established private company when there are no proper responses to questions asked.

The DA will not stop looking for every piece of information necessary to hold DSAC and the MNPO accountable for millions of taxpayer funds.