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INTERVENTION TO UNESCO BY THE MINISTER OF SPORT, ARTS & CULTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR N MTHETHWA DURING THE FIRST ONLINE MEETING OF MINISTERS OF CULTURE HELD ON 22 APRIL 2020

Our government’s approach to combat the effects of COVID19 epidemic is predicated on three phases. 

The first phase began in mid-March when we declared the coronavirus pandemic as a national disaster.

This included a broad range of measures to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on businesses, on communities and on individuals. The measures included tax relief, the release of disaster relief funds, emergency procurement, wage support through the UIF and funding to small businesses.

The second phase of our economic response to stabilise the economy, address the extreme decline in supply and demand and protect jobs. As part of this phase, we are announcing this evening a huge social relief and economic support package of R500 billion, which amounts to about 10% of GDP.

The third phase is the economic strategy we will implement to drive the recovery of our economy as the country emerges from this pandemic.

 

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) was amongst the first to respond through the COVID19 Relief Fund.

The relief fund was meant to cushion the impact of the pandemic on Athletes, Creative Workers, the technical staff and the entire cultural value chain.

This intervention was based on the understanding that the sector thrives on numbers and therefore are the hardest hit by the measures taken to combat COVID19.

The government is now focused on programmes of social relief in the economic support package. This involves:

1)          an extraordinary health budget to respond to coronavirus,

2)         On relief hunger and social distress.

3)         The support of companies and workers.

4)         Phased re-opening of the economy.

The effect of the coronavirus requires an extraordinary coronavirus budget — of around R500 billion — to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic.

In order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the cultural and creative industries, The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is offering the following relief to support artists, entities, associations, etc.:

  • The Department has reprioritized its budget allocation from quarter one to avail over R150 million (which is approximately 8 million US Dollars) to provide the much needed relief to practitioners in the cultural and creative sector.
  • The allocated funds will be utilized to render various forms of support to practitioners during this period.  Priority will be given to artists and practitioners who were already booked by some of the cancelled and postponed events funded by the department, as well as to the legends of the industry.

In addition, we will continue to employ the following strategies:

i.          Sustain and/or scale-up the production and supply of ACH products and services

  • The Mzansi Golden Economy programme to continue providing catalytic funding to arts organizations, industry bodies and community arts centres around the country, targeting art disciplines that have the potential to contribute to economic growth, job creation and skills development.
  • The ArtbankSA is tasked with purchasing artworks from South African artists, particularly that of emerging artists in order to lease and sell the artworks to South African government departments, government properties outside SA, private companies and private individuals.

We will undertake these efforts cognizant of the fact that our success depends on the success of the African continent. This will involve the following amongst others:

  • Pursue regional, continental and global policies which encourage economic growth whilst ensuring that the sovereignty of the state is maintained; and focus on maximising opportunities for regional and intra -Africa trade;
  • SA to advocate for UNCTAD proposed package of US$2.5 trillion for liquidity to finance immediate challenges and debt write-offs for a sustainable recovery. This includes international support measures for production and supply of medical supplies and equipment, as well as food.
  • The AU Covid-19 Response Fund and financial resources provided to the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) should be utilised to ramp up screening and testing in the continent
  • A robust and resilient recovery plan, premised on stronger collaboration between government and private sector to build national, regional and continental productive capacity for value added mineral exports.

END