Film commission board mounts a defence against damning review

The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) board is planning a fightback after being hammered by the portfolio committee on sports, recreation, arts, and culture in May this year.

The board was hauled over the coals by the committee following complaints by disgruntled applicants over funding  allocation. 

During the portfolio committee meeting on May 19, board chairperson Busisiwe Mhaga’s presentation on the implementation of the GFC strategy failed to hit the right note.

“The committee raised its concerns over the presentation made, which was inconclusive and left the committee unsatisfied and unclear on the scope of work of the board,” according to the minutes of the meeting.

The committee complained about the board’s configuration and overlapping roles, blaming  that on the GFC’s compromised service delivery.

“The concern of the committee is in relation to the board responsibilities that seem to be overlapping to that of the management of the Gauteng Film Commission,” read the minutes.

The committee cited the GFC’s recent performance decline and the postponement of an annual summit in the previous financial year as denting the commission’s image.

More worrying, said the committee, was the fact that Mhaga signed the letter to stakeholders regarding the summit’s postponement.

Specifically, stated the minutes, the committee was concerned about the board members’ responsibilities, noting that their roles and duties overlapped with those of management. Furthermore, the minutes said, the committee was worried about the board’s legal standing.

The committee then mandated MEC Morakane Mosupye to investigate the GFC board, its legal standing, and its scope of work.  Mosupye was expected to report to the committee in 60 days.

Sunday World  can reveal that the board members  will submit an audit report, which places the service delivery challenges at management’s door.

The commission funds audio-visual production, audience development,  skills development, research hubs, script development and content for television.

The applicants also alleged that management, in collusion with the adjudication committee, manipulated the adjudication and practised favouritism. 

However, GFC insiders sympathetic to management,  said GFC management put in place structures and systems to enable better performance and increase the pool of filmmakers funded. 

Among the issues resolved was the alignment of employment contracts with labour relations provisions, which was a long-standing problem within the organisation.

“The new organisation structure has been put in place, which enables the GFC to better respond to the sector,” said the insider.

The insider further said an executive appointment at the GFC was yet to be made and had remained vacant since the structure was completed in 2022.

In addition, said the source, an independent structure was appointed to ensure no conflict of interest and to promote transparency and fairness in the evaluation of applications. 

“The board had requested a value-added audit to improve our processes. The auditors have identified areas that will enhance the process from a management perspective”. 

The insider said recommendations from the audit primarily centred around strengthening the GFC filing system and improving processes for efficiency. “Management has enhanced the funding policy to respond to issues of internal controls, “ said the insider.

Sources said that historically, the GFC received over 600 applications, of which only 60 could be funded due to budget constraints.

“The demand clearly surpasses the supply, and as such, there will be complaints from applicants,” said the deep throat.

Questions sent to the committee on Wednesday to elaborate on its concerns were not answered.

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