Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture on the Close-Out of First Wave of Covid-19 Relief Fund and the state of readiness for the Roll-Out of the Second Wave of Relief Funding
It has been exactly two weeks since our last engagement on the 3rd of August 2020, where we assured the nation that we will provide continuous updates on our relief plans for the sector. Since then, we have been working tirelessly to conclude all processes relating to the 1st Wave of the COVID-19 Relief Fund and to streamline our 2nd Wave of the relief funding process.
Last night, the President announced that we are moving to Level 2 Lockdown. Therefore, it is important to note that we still need to remain vigilant in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Hence, we must continue to wear our masks at all times in public spaces, continue observing proper hygiene protocol; including washing of hands and sanitation. The new announcement under Level 2 still prohibits the sector from having spectators at sporting events and cultural activities, including the hosting of international events. In relation to concerts, entertainment events and cinemas, only 50 people are permitted. The same restrictions will apply to gyms, sports grounds and public swimming pools.
FIRST WAVE COVID-19 RELIEF FUND (STATUS)
To date, the Department has spent a total of R65.7 million which catered for various categories, such as the digital applications, the living legends, relief for athletes in the sector as well as the relief of our arts and culture practitioners.
CHALLENGES EXPERINCED AND LESSONS LEARNT FROM 1ST WAVE OF RELIEF
The first wave was not without its challenges. Due to the lockdown, many applicants were unable to fulfil the requirements of the criteria set on the open call. The following are some of the challenges experienced while implementing the 1st Wave:
- Non-compliance of applications due to failure to submit the required documentation, such as bank statements, tax certificates, proof of cancelled events and other gigs.
- Lack of access to ICT centres, as most of them were not operating during the lock-down period.
- Lack of readiness by the Department’s IT system also posed major challenges. Most applications were large in size and the system did not cater for such applications.
- Data capturing and adjudication was an extremely labour intensive and time-consuming process; as practitioners had to submit multiple attachments for only one application, while others submitted duplicate applications.
- Issues of language, access and urgency for applicants, including geographic issues of urban, peri-urban and rural access were highlighted as challenges by the sector.
- In some cases, applicants demonstrated opportunistic and potentially fraudulent behaviour.
- Delays in processing of payments due to verification of banking details and other compliance documents.
ROLL-OUT OF THE 2ND WAVE RELIEF FUND
The Department will be rolling-out two processes to implement the sector relief. The first process will include the relief for athletes and all technical personnel in the sport sector. While the second process will focus on arts and culture sector relief.
It is important to note that on the sport side, the same process used in the first wave will apply. Applicants who are eligible to apply will include athletes, coaches, technical support personnel and freelance fitness instructors or practitioners. These are applicants who rely solely on income generated from participating in sports competitions, events and in fitness activities, who operate as freelancers. Only applicants who are South African citizens as per Home Affairs official definition will qualify for relief. Applications for this category of people should be submitted to the applicant’s respective National Federation.
Only applications from fitness instructors / practitioners must be submitted to a portal on the Department’s website. When submitting to Federations and sport entities, the Federations and sport entities will provide the first line of assurance. These entities will sign-off with a recommendation and send all recommended applications to the Department for further processing.
Exclusions for Sport
- Registered businesses and employees who work in such businesses may not qualify for this relief. They are encouraged to explore other relief interventions available within government, particularly the Department of Employment and Labour.
- Sport personnel with other sources of income and those who are employed or on a fixed term contract do not qualify for relief. Athletes on fixed-term contracts: These athletes are catered for in terms of contracts entered into with either the federations or clubs.
- Sport personnel who benefited from the first wave of relief or from any of the provincial relief funds do not qualify.
It is critical to note that any provision of false information will be treated as fraud and dealt with through the appropriate criminal justice system.
Compliance Documents for Sport:
All applications must be accompanied by the following:
- Certified copy of South African Identity Document; date of certification should not be older than 3 months. Passport or Drivers Licences are not allowed.
- Valid proof of bank account.
- Detailed bank statements showing income earned from sports competitions, events, activities and fitness instruction services from March 2019 to February 2020.
- If you are an athlete, coach or technical support personnel, a signed and dated letter from your federation or organisation confirming your activities is required.
- If you are a fitness instructor / practitioner, a letter (signed and dated) from an institution or organisation you provided fitness instructor / practitioner services for, confirming your work.
- The maximum amount of relief available per applicant is set at R6 600.
- The Department and any of its agencies reserves the right to conduct verification, due diligence and request additional information prior to providing the relief.
- The Department does not endorse the charging of fees for assistance in completing the application.
Note that a list of all sport beneficiaries who benefited during the first wave will be posted on the various Department platforms and also given to federations and sports entities to guard against any form of double dipping.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Relief
The relief will be available to individuals in the arts, culture and heritage sector/cultural and creative industries. The categories to be provided with relief will apply only to:
- Performance and celebrations
- Festivals and events
- Books and publishing
- Heritage practitioners
Other practitioners will be covered through the partnership with the Department of Small Business and Development (DSBD). A joint allocation of R23 million has been set aside by both Departments to respond to a plea from the Cultural & Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) for the craft, design and visual arts sectors towards relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exclusions for Arts, Culture and Heritage Relief
- Applicants who do not rely solely on the income earned from participating in arts, culture and heritage activities.
- Arts, culture and heritage practitioners on fixed-term contracts may not apply.
- Companies/NPIs/NGOs, group applications (choirs, bands, etc.). These will be catered for on the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme.
- Applicants who benefitted in the first cycle of the DSAC Relief Fund or its provincial counterparts or any other government relief funding do not qualify.
- Support sectors such as catering, transport and accommodation will not be catered for.
Who will be eligible for this relief?
- Practitioners who rely solely on income generated from participating in sports, arts, culture and heritage activities, as mentioned.
- Practitioners who are dependent on gigs, who are freelancers and independent contractors.
- Applicants must provide proof of having earned income through arts, culture and heritage activities (provide contracts/ invoices/ bank statements/ municipal trading permits) in the 12 months period ending on February 2020.
- Practitioners will need to prove their applicability in the sector through provision of their profiles/ portfolio of work/ academic achievements in the sector and/ or reference from other prominent practitioners who have been in the field for 10 years or more.
2ND WAVE APPLICATION PROCESS
- Only one application form should be submitted by applicants either via WhatsApp or through the website; as submitting two applications will lead to disqualification.
- All first wave beneficiaries identity numbers are going to be loaded on both systems as the system has been made in such a manner that should any of the first wave beneficiaries take a chance and submit an application, the system will then reject it.
- A list of those who are recommended to be paid but are not yet processed will also be loaded onto the system so that upon their submissions both Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and the National Arts Council (NAC) systems will reject them.
- Departmental communication and information platforms will also publish the names of all first wave recipients, serving as a reminder to those who initially benefited to not take a chance and submit.
- All applicants upon submitting their applications via WhatsApp on 087 153 1027, will get an SMS acknowledging their applications.
- Should applicants seek clarity and information on their application status, they can call 0800 724 278 at no cost. This measure was introduced to further strengthen our communication with all sector applicants.
- Language practitioners who can converse in more than three languages will be utilised and will be equipped with all required information.
COMMUNICATION WITHIN THIS PERIOD
We have put together a communications team comprising of involved stakeholders (DSAC, BASA, SASCOC, NAC) with the objective of granting as much communication as possible during this period. The team will be working very closely with our IT unit, BASA and NAC (IT) units. This team has identified a number of elements which will be utilised to market and give information and clarity to all applicants during this period, inclusive of radio, live reads, print, adverts and infographics. Department platforms and entities platforms will be consistently utilised during this period to equally give out as much information as possible in the form of information graphics. Social media platforms and websites will be key instruments which will be consistently utilised and the team will be working closely with GCIS in giving out as much information as possible during this period. They will also ensure that the call centre is scripted and monitored daily so that matters that require escalation are responded to rapidly. Media enquiries will also be processed by this team and matters that require Principals intervention, will then be urgently escalated. This team has scheduled standing meetings which will take place for the duration of this process.
THE SOLIDARITY FUND (STATUS)
The Solidarity Fund has made available 10 000 food or cash vouchers of R700 to the department amounting to R 7 million. The Department is working with sector organisations and the provinces to develop a list of practitioners who will benefit from these vouchers. Each province will receive 1 000 vouchers which can either be redeemed as cash or for food.
Beneficiaries will be identified as follows: 50% urban and 50% rural areas. The vouchers will be made available to the athletes, artists, freelancers, sport and arts legends. Those that are receiving social grants and UIF will be excluded from benefiting.
Our database will be screened through the Department of Social Development to ensure that beneficiaries are not recipients of SASSA grant.
- Between the ages of 14 to 35, as well as 36 to 59.
- Active and ex-professional athletes / arts practitioners who are unemployed and have no alternative source/s of income.
- Ex-professional athletes / arts practitioners should have been active for at least a period of 3 years.
- The criteria also covers technical staff such as coaches, referees, sound engineers.
Voucher Receipt Process:
In terms of the payment process, a list of beneficiaries will be submitted to the Solidarity Fund who will verify the eligibility of beneficiaries through the SASSA system. An SMS will then be sent to potential beneficiaries acknowledging receipt of the application. Once verified, the information will be sent to Standard Bank to process the payment, which can be redeemed at the ATM or their agents being Spar, Checkers, et al.
The Department will then be notified and once the process is finalised, the information will be deleted from their system as per the POPI Act 2000.
A total of R77 million is set aside for Relief. Of which R11.5 million has been ring-fenced for contribution towards the partnership with the Department of Small Business Development. If the entire amount is to be paid specifically towards beneficiaries and no other costs are considered, the allocation will cover a total of 11 666 practitioners (athletes and artists) based on the following estimates:
The relief will be paid as a once-off payment of R6 600.
ROLE OF THE SECTOR ORGANISATIONS
The sector organisations will play a role in raising awareness within the sector, enabling access to information because they have an advantage of reaching remote and disadvantaged areas. The organisations will assist members with the application process and explore measures to prevent duplication and double dipping.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to officially announce that the 2nd Wave of the COVID-19 Relief Fund for the sector is officially open as of the 18th of August 2020.
The closing date for all applications will be the 31st of August 2020.
I thank you.
Masechaba Khumalo: Spokesperson (Minister)
Mr Mickey Modisane: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Sport)
Ms Zimasa Velaphi: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Arts and Culture)