'Where’s the dignity?': Artists blast McKenzie for publishing Covid-19 relief list

Minister of sport, arts and culture Gayton McKenzie remains in the spotlight after publishing a Covid-19 relief list naming artists and sportspeople.
Minister of sport, arts and culture Gayton McKenzie remains in the spotlight after publishing a Covid-19 relief list naming artists and sportspeople.
Image: Anton Geyser

Sport, arts and culture minister Gayton McKenzie's decision to publish the names of artists and sports professionals who benefited financially from the department's Covid-19 relief fund has ruffled some feathers. 

The department on Wednesday published the names of artists and sports professionals.

Media personality and businessman Sizwe Dhlomo was not impressed by McKenzie's decision, saying it undermined the dignity of artists and sports professionals who struggled during South Africa's two-year Covid-19 restrictions which left many cash-strapped.

“Being awarded a tender is different to being exposed for needing financial assistance. Where’s the dignity in this?” Dhlomo asked, sparking debate on social media.

Dhlomo believed publishing the list disparages artists who sought help when faced with hard financial times. “This is no way to treat people who were encouraged to come forward for assistance during a pandemic,” he said. 

He described the decision to publish the list as a political stunt: “The new ministers are putting in their own people who will benefit in future. This is just politicking, to appear as if they are working and rooting out corruption.”

Joining the debate, DJ Warras, real name Warrick Stock, said: “These were people who applied for assistance during Covid-19. This is not cool. I thought the list of names being revealed is people who got funding — for projects that either did or did not happen. Those figures should be audited because a lot of people got millions for nonsense.”

Despite pushback, McKenzie has no intentions to stop publishing Covid-19 relief beneficiaries. He published a second list on Thursday.

We will not be deterred. This is not your money, it is not my money; this is public money and the public must know who got money from them. The department must show they were there for artists during the worst times and also expose those that misused the opportunity,” he said.

“There are good people on that list, well-meaning people. For the sake of transparency let’s see the good work people did. It is not a shame list.”

The department would probe cases of people who were on the list but did not receive money, he said.

We already have people who came forward that didn’t receive money nor applied but are listed as having received. We have people not aligned to the arts who received money, we saw people who are not from South Africa benefiting. Wait and see after all lists have been released.

“I will fire the corrupt [officials] and protect the good ones, we will make South Africa proud.”

The list showed the department paid 3,962 beneficiaries R72m. About 166 beneficiaries received R53,000 each, including former Generations actress Bawinile Ntshaba, known by her character name “Khethiwe”.

A total of 1,089 beneficiaries were paid R10,000 each, including musicians Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbuli. Another 2,323 individuals received R20,000 each, including Arthur Mafokate and his son. 

Here are some reactions from social media: 



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