Nathi Mthethwa confirms R1 million funding request from Natasha Thahane.. Minister Nathi Mthethwa says Natasha Thahane’s request to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture for R1 million to study in the US was made directly to him.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) Khanya Ceza, during a recent parliamentary plenary sitting, asked for clarity surrounding the request, as well as former speaker Baleka Mbete’s involvement.
Mthethwa said Thahane’s request for financial support to study at the New York Film Academy “was similar to many others” his department “constantly receives”.
The request was addressed directly to Mthethwa “as the minister”. He said the public reaches out to him directly “possibly because I am the political head of the department”.
He said the funding was approved by the deputy director-general for institutional governance in 2017, and Thahane’s contract with the department is on condition she completes her studies.
Back in November, Thahane said on an episode of MacG’s Podcast & Chill she had “asked Mam’ Baleka [Mbete]” for assistance after she was accepted into the school.
“[I] was like, ‘Mama, I need to go back to school. I’ve been accepted. I don’t know what I’m going to do, can I have funds? Please arrange something for me’,” Thahane said.
She received heavy criticism for the comment, with many South Africans accusing her of leveraging her relation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s, who is her grandfather.
Thahane later said her comments were taken out of context. She also apologised to Mbete for making it sound as though the two had a personal relationship.
“I would profusely like to apologise to Mam‘ Baleka Mbete and the department because when I watch back and listen to the interview, [I] realise that I spoke about her like we have a personal relationship, which is not the case.”
Thahane said she approached Mbete and asked for advice, and Mbete told her to contact the department as they had funding opportunities.
In response to Ceza’s question, however, Mthethwa said he was not aware of Mbete’s role in the matter.
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