R105k spent on corporate gifts by Gauteng sports & arts could have helped 17 athletes and artists, says DA

14 November 2021 - 14:16
By Naledi Shange
The department of arts, culture and recreation spent more than R100,000 in corporate gifts this year.
Image: 123RF/alexraths The department of arts, culture and recreation spent more than R100,000 in corporate gifts this year.

The Gauteng MEC of sports, arts, culture and recreation has confirmed that her office spent R105,725 on corporate gifts for the 2020/21 financial year.

This was 19 times more than the amount spent in the 2018/2019 financial year, said Kingsol Chabalala, the DA's Gauteng shadow MEC for the same post.. 

“Since the 2015/16 financial year, the department has only spent R5,553 during 2018/19 and R105,725 during 2020/21, while there was no money spent in other financial years. In total, the department has spent R111,278 for the past six financial years,” Chabalala said.

The information was revealed by MEC Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to his questions tabled in the Gauteng provincial legislature.

Chabalala criticised this saying the current high expenditure on gifts came at a time when artists and athletes were battling to cope in the wake of Covid-19.

‘’This money spent on corporate gifts in the 2020/21 financial year could have been used to pay 17 athletes and artists R6,000 each as part of the Covid-19 relief grant.

“It could have gone a long way to ease the pressure off artists and athletes during these trying times as the industry has been severely affected by the lockdown restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic,’’ said Chabalala.

In the written response, Hlophe listed each of the gifts and how much they had cost.

The biggest expense was 10 Mandela busts which were priced at R3,800 each. About R37,000 was spent on Robben Island and big five chess pieces; R12,000 was spent on Ndebele throws while another R12,000 was spent on what the department said was small 3D paintings; and R8,000 went towards branding.

Two years ago, the department spent a more modest R5,553 on 100 mugs. 

‘’While we understand the importance of corporate gifts, considering the social and economic impact of Covid-19, the department should not have overspent on corporate gifts and considering the suffering of residents during this time, the money should have been channelled in accordance with the department's core mandate,’’ Chabalala added.

In recent weeks and months, artists have embarked on protests against the department, saying many of them had not received the relief promised to them at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.