Several media groups are reporting that the Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr Sibusiso Xaba, has been suspended. The newly appointed minister, Nathi Mthethwa, has acted on the fact that the Department has received a qualified audit from the Auditor General.
In a statement that appears on the Department’s website Minister Mthethwa is quoted as saying: ‘The Auditor-General’s latest report is frankly a matter of deep concern as it shows that the department is still largely failing in key areas. I have decided to launch a forensic investigation into these findings. As a result of this, I have taken the appropriate steps to suspend the Director General, Mr Sibusiso Xaba until the investigation has been finalized.’
According to the Minister, a forensic investigation on the irregular expenditure and non-adherence to procedure will be launched. This followed a qualified audit report by the Auditor General covering the 2013/2014 financial year.
ArtThrob has been involved in an attempt to get information regarding the Department’s expenditure for the last year. A Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request was launched by ArtThrob last year in August in an attempt to find out how much the Department was spending on overseas travel. As of two weeks ago, two departmental officials confirmed that the information was available but needed Mr Xaba’s approval.
ArtThrob is in consultation with lawyers and is considering launching a court action against the Department for its failure to comply with legislation under PAIA. This request was a follow up on the PAIA application that uncovered faked invoices attached to the Venice Biennale exhibition of 2011 totaling over R4-million. This money still remains unaccounted for.