Portfolio Committee supports DA petition on the Mzansi Philharmonic Orchestra

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

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

Yesterday the DA briefed the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture on the petition to investigate the commissioning of the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra  (MNPO) by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

The Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra and the new funding model for the development of musicians in the classical sector are shrouded in controversy.

The dispute between the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) over the possible irregular expenditure in relation to money paid to the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra is still unresolved.

The AGSA informed the portfolio committee that they received outstanding documentation and that the auditing process for the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra is still ongoing.

All committee members agreed that an investigation into the matter of the MNPO should be conducted. In the past, responses from the Department and the CEO of the MNPO have not been clear,  the lack of a feasibility study and a budget (which is apparently updated regularly, based on what’s happening on the ground) is problematic. It is unfortunate that the Minister, the Department, and Mr. Tembe are not prepared to share this business plan with the committee.

We also disagree with the Minister’s open support for Mr. Tembe.

It appears that the Orchestra is controlled by one dominant individual, who is enabled by the Minister and DSAC to spend taxpayers’ funds at his own discretion on a touring national orchestra, where a third of the budget will be spent on travelling.

The DA is further convinced that it is unethical for one individual to hold all the following positions:

  • CEO and Artistic Director of 2 out of 3 regional orchestras, and thus a beneficiary of the funding distributed by the MNPO;
  • CEO and Artistic Director of the National Orchestra;
  • NAC board member; and
  • Board member of the MNPO.

Mr. Tembe is also the very person who signed the MOA (11/11/2022) with the NAC and formed part of the team distributing the funding to other beneficiaries with no monitoring in place, especially since the money recently distributed by the MNPO was done without applications, motivations, or stipulations on how the money should be used.

The DA received letters confirming that task team members have not been reimbursed. This after  R1 million was deposited into the KZNPO’s account to pay for the running costs of the Task Team of the National Orchestra.  They also did not receive the final report submitted to the Minister on their behalf. The Task Team was clearly dysfunctional.

The DA  asked the speaker to investigate whether the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and Mr Tembe may have intentionally misled the committee since September 2022 regarding Mr. Heyneman, CEO of the Cape Philharmonic.

Given the controversy and lack of transparency surrounding the MNPO, the DA has called for an independent investigation into the MNPO and everything related to it. The DA and others will be submitting relevant information to assist the SIU in this regard.