Minister Nathi Mthethwa Ministerial Advisory Team (MAT) update on Progress attained to date
The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, on the 9th of March 2021 appointed the Ministerial Advisory Team (MAT) with the objective and mandate of advising the Minister on how to deal with the plight and challenges faced by creatives during COVID-19 Pandemic period.
The MAT appointment came at a time when the nation is under enormous strain due to COVID-19 and evidently the creative and cultural industries, in their various forms, are amongst those bearing the brunt.
Over and above the relief measures introduced by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Minister, the MAT other objective was to offer perpetual advice to the Minister on finding amicable solutions regarding challenges within the sector whilst working close with the sector. The MAT has been divided into (5) work streams which to date have recorded the following progress:
WORK STREAM 1: Banking and Landlords Portfolio tasked with engaging with the financial sector and proposing various interventions that would assist practitioners with matters such as payment holidays, financial relief, tax relief as well as Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) i.e. Workman Compensation and Temporary Employment Relief (TERS) compliance.
ACHIEVEMENTS: A relief for artist after discussions with both COGTA and the Department of Human Settlements under the Disaster Management Act (regulation 73 & 74, which still grants protection against eviction during the pandemic.
The Department of Human Settlements has advised MAT as follows:
- All major Banks offering mortgage and related housing finance have, because of understanding the impact and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, introduced measures to assist their clients who may be facing difficulties in honoring scheduled repayments and/or installments. Financial institutions are geared, ready and willing to engage each bond/mortgage agreement on merit. Especially as of the compliance of regulation 73 regarding eviction. To this end it is important for clients to approach their banks directly to make arrangements as may be required.
- Each provincial Rental Housing Tribunal have now arranged regional/ decentralised office operations and are able to be contacted to assist and advise either in mitigation or misunderstanding of any rental challenges.
- There is an imminent Residential Rental Relief Program to be rolled out by the DoHS which too will assist greatly with residential rental challenges within certain limits and on the basis of a determined qualification criteria. We will assist in disseminating the information for our sector once implemented.
WORK STREAM 2: Wellness team which has been tasked with working closely with the Department and the designated service provider to implement wellness interventions programmes for sectoral practitioners. This crucial workstream recognises the importance of attending to mental health issues faced by practitioners in these difficult times as well as their general wellbeing. To date, it has managed to put together The Silapha (We are here for you) wellness Program which was launched on the 26 February 2020 with the aim of assisting creatives on issues relating to counselling, Depression, Legal and Financial advise.
Working very close with the Department, this workstream is currently rolling out The Silapha Wellness Program throughout the country and it has already visited Mpumalanga and now on route to hit KwaZulu Natal as its next destination (date to be advised).
WORK STREAM 3: Aimed at ensuring that sector practitioners’ children who are attending Government Schools are not prevented / barred from attending schools due to non-payment of fees during the pandemic period.
ACHIEVEMENT: After MAT engagement with the Department of Basic Education, it has been agreed that provided that sectoral practitioners can demonstration all required documentation indicating that that they have been affected by the COVID – 19 pandemic and cannot afford to pay any school fees, they will be exempted from paying such fees for 2020 and 2021 period.
This task team has further managed to also secure Legal Guidelines from the Department of Basic Education and practical methods on how parents who are sectoral practitioner can apply to be exempted and further made available a list of regional DBE representatives who can oversee enforcement of this agreement therefore, serving as watch dog so that there is no violation or taking advantage of those in need of such relief.
This workstream to date has achieved one of its major milestones and it is now tasked with ensuring the implementation and monitoring of all agreements entered by parents and SGB’s. The workstream has also released step-by-step Instructions for all affected parents within the sector so that it is easy for them to implement (i.e.) relevant Contact persons / numbers / email addresses so that when they encounter any challenges, they know where to go. For more information, visit www.srsa.gov.za / www.dac.gov.za
WORK STREAM 4 responsible for Retail and Transport Portfolio and WORK STREAM 5 which handles Private and Corporate Sector.
These two work streams have been set up to engage the private sector and solicit favourable conditions, sustainable stimulus, and sponsorships so that in the long run they can help practitioners continue to sustain their livelihoods.
The consultations with stakeholders are currently on going in progress and will be reported on at a later stage.
Update on COVID – 19 Third Phase Relief payments:
Minister initiated the deployment of MAT which was to rest under the guidance of the Director – General of the Department (Vusumuzi Mkhize). Their deployment was sparked by the slow payment of beneficiaries which Minister felt that MAT can be of great assistance in coming up with a turnaround strategy which will ultimately yield positive results. The positive results required was to see more sectoral practitioner applicants for the third Phase relief be expeditiously processed and paid. The team was then deployed within and to work with relevant stakeholders. They continue to aid various functions inclusive of those handling adjudications, appeals, rejections based on lack of substantial documentation.
Through the assistance and intervention by MAT, the following progress has been recorded to date, +/- 4000 applicants have benefited, and the number continue to increase.
Another development, The Adjudication teams have equally commenced with the processing of Organisations applications for third phase relief and the Department will be issuing necessary updates in relation to those successful.
“The time has come to acknowledge that a system of ongoing intervention and relief measures is not sustainable. It is time to move into a future that now supports sustainable programmes that will contribute to relaunching and growing the creative and cultural industry.
Therefore, the Department last week manged to set the wheel in motion by calling practitioners to submit applications for sustainable projects through its Mzansi Golden Economy, the Department will also in due course be announcing its Art Bank Programme.
All these efforts are not isolated but rather in line with the bigger objective of the economic reconstruction and recovery of our country’s economy” – Minister Nathi Mthethwa