Mzansi NPO: Affidavit by CEO of Cape Town Orchestra sheds new light

Issued by Veronica van Dyk MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture
13 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached Afrikaans and English soundbites by Veronica van Dyk MP.

The DA has submitted a sworn affidavit by Louis Heyneman, the CEO of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CTPO), to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, highlighting problematic aspects relating to the establishment of the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (MNPO).

In the sworn affidavit, Mr Heyneman stresses that the failure to procure a credible feasibility study, the lack of a sound business plan from the outset and the way in which government funding is distributed to other entities through a newly formed national orchestra, need to be investigated urgently.

Mr Heyneman’s affidavit contradicts statements repeatedly made by MNPO CEO, Mr Bongani Tembe and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) namely that he had been an integral part of the task team, interacted with it and participated in its activities, and was actively co-instrumental in bringing about the establishing of the Mzansi NPO, and that his involvement was an “unassailable fact”. He further contradicts that extensive and meaningful consultation had taken place with all significant role players in the orchestral sector.

The DA has been trying to get to the bottom of the contradictions regarding the establishment of the MNPO. Statements and presentations to the committee by Mr Tembe, on behalf of the National Arts Council (NAC), and the DSAC have not only failed to provide crucial information for oversight of an entity that is set to receive an annual grant of more than R30 million from the Department, but it seems that the committee might have been misled on the feasibility study and the extent of the involvement of the task team appointed by the DSAC.

The DA is concerned that the DSAC and Mr Tembe have to date failed to provide the committee with an independent feasibility study and a business plan. Instead of providing the (2021) business plan which was the basis on which the NAC has paid an amount of some R52 million to the MNPO, the Minister, in a written reply to parliamentary question 4330-2022, simply evaded the issue and advised that the MNPO “is updating its business plan” which process is “being informed by the realities on the ground and the continuous engagement with various stakeholders”.

Instead of providing a “revised business plan” by 31 March 2023, as the Minister envisages, a proper business plan should have been done at the outset, not now after the event when the establishment of the MNPO is already a fait accompli.

It is alarming that the Department saw it fit to fund an entity without doing its due diligence.

It is clear now that no attention was paid to the potential long-lasting negative impact a haphazard national orchestra might have on regional orchestras’ viability nor the financial sustainability of the MNPO.

Moreover, it is highly questionable on what basis the MNPO, which is not a state entity, could have been allowed to distribute funds to other parties at its own discretion.

The DA will continue to leverage all parliamentary oversight avenues to ensure that the establishment of the MNPO is compliant with all the good governance regulations of the country.