Open letter to Minister Nathi Mthethwa

Dear Minister, Artists are not prioritised in your department. As a result we are falling victim to those who have an advantage over us.

Open Letter: Sibongile Mngoma
19 JANUARY at 20:57

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Dear Min Nathi Mthethwa

Artists are not prioritised in your department. As a result we are falling victim to those who have an advantage over us. We are constantly looking for financial backers and sponsors and yet your department has a budget that is supposed to cater for the arts. Some of these “funders”/ “mentors”/ “patrons”, look for funding on our “behalf” and then run away with the funds when the funds come through.

This has left us vulnerable and exposed. We are left with debt we cannot repay because the funding(from your department ) that is supposed to reach us doesn’t reach us. It is not even directed at us.

We have had to go to these lengths because the doors of your department are not open to giving funding to us. Your office will accept a meeting but there’s no follow through.

Some of our ideas are stolen from the proposals we submit to your office.

We apply for funding from your department but your department doesn’t even acknowledge receipt of these applications. Then we are asked why we don’t partner with your department???

Your department’s MO is killing the arts. You have opened the door for exploitation and bullying by being complacent and complicit in the abuse of the artist.

Artists are dying of depression because we cannot take care of ourselves and our families. We need transparency and speed in the processes of your department.

Some of us have lost our homes. I was homeless for most of 2019 because of inaccessibility of funds to do projects that can take my industry in a different and good direction. Because I’m not willing to play the game of kickbacks, I am an artistic outcast. So are some of my colleagues.

I know that writing this open letter is opening myself up to more victimization.

You know what? I have nothing else to lose. I’ve lost too much. I talk, I suffer. I keep quiet, I suffer. So I’ve decided the truth shall set me free.

I don’t want to die on the street like some of my colleagues but I’m prepared to die for the truth. How long shall we suffer because there is no accountability in our industry? Where is the legislation that governs our industry. If there are no laws, there is no sin. That is why your department is in no hurry to make sure there are clear guidelines in the form of legislation to govern this industry.

Why are we still victimized for speaking out against injustices? What does democracy and freedom of speech mean in your department.

Where there’s no crime, there’s no recourse. That is why there is no justice for all the victims in this industry.

Please Nyambose do something about the plight of the artist in this country. Otherwise, if you are not prepared to do something, may the deaths of our depressed artists be on your head.

Be the minister who will go down in history as having made the necessary changes that put the arts back on track and restored the pride and dignity of SA arts and culture on the world stages on our own terms.


Sibongile Mngoma

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