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Arts & Culture Dept slams Wolpe claims of Liliesleaf shut down amid money woes

3 September 2021 2:01 PM

Mandy Wiener speaks to Dept of Arts and Culture Director-General Vusi Mkhize who says government have supported Liliesleaf.

First, Mandy replayed a portion of an interview 702's Clement Manyathela conducted on Friday morning with Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and Chief Executive of Liliesleaf Trust, and then she spoke to Dept of Arts and Culture Director-General Vusi Mkhize for a response.

  • Arts and Culture DG says the money given to Liliesleaf under the 2015 Memorandum of Agreement was for improving the exhibition infrastructure and not for operational costs as Nicholas Wolpe claims.
Picture: Masechaba Sefularo.

Earlier on Friday morning, 702's Clement Manyathela spoke to Liliesleaf Farm Museum CEO, Nicholas Wolpe. Wolpe had made the announcement of the closure to what was once a haven for the famous Rivonia trial 12.

Wolpe had stated the farm has not been able to pay employees and creditors for several months.

But the Department of Arts and Culture Lilieslief has received over R70 million in funding over the past 13 years.

In 2015, Liliesleaf did sign an MOU for a project for R9 million which we got R8.1 million. That money was not spent on the project, it was spent on operational funding and we reported on that.

Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and Chief Executive - Liliesleaf Trust

We submitted reports and the department rejected them saying the reports did not speak on the MOU.

Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and Chief Executive - Liliesleaf Trust

The trustees were caught off guard, they were not aware. The reason being I was effectively told not to communicate with them until the forensic audit was completed.

Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and Chief Executive - Liliesleaf Trust

This was not a decision I took, I had no choice. If I have no funds to pay the staff, how do I run Liliesleaf?

Nicholas Wolpe, Founder and Chief Executive - Liliesleaf Trust

Mandy Wiener then spoke to the Arts and Culture DG to get their side of the story.

We just want to place it on record that the department has continued and will continue to want and support Liliesleaf.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

Despite Liliesleaf being a private institution, the Department of Arts and Culture has never stopped supporting it, he notes.

It has never stopped the department from ensuring that this significant historic site remains afloat and is supported.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

He strongly disputes that R8.1 given to the project under an MOA was for what Wolpe calls operational costs.

The 2015 Memorandum of Agreement was clear that Liliesleaf would use the money for the improvement of the exhibition infrastructure, not for operations that he is referring to.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

Mkhize says Wolpe would have had to ask for an operational budget separately.

There were very clear terms and conditions and he signed for those and is fully aware of them, so he cannot come back and say I accounted for the money using it for different things that were not part of the MOA.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

Mkhize says he met with Wolpe and explained the situation to him.

I have asked him to account for what he used the money.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

He [Wolpe] is still ducking and diving and now he is trying to create public sympathy and manipulative tendencies that are just not acceptable.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

Even this [report] on the closure. You need a board resolution for the closure of Liliesleaf. He can't go around himself pronouncing on the closure.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

Mkhize says Wolpe's statement to the media that he cannot talk to the department is also untrue.

He has direct access to me as DG.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

He believes the board has considered the matter and will deal with it responsibly.

We will look at the merits and demerits of this and commit financial support.

Vusi Mkhize, Director-General - Department of Arts and Culture

John Maytham spoke to Nicholas Wolpe on Friday afternoon.

Take a listen to the interview below where, according to Wolpe, the trustees of Liliesleaf were aware the money given by the Department of Arts and Culture needed to be used for operational expenses.

Wolpe says Liliesleaf did account for the money in a report.




3 September 2021 2:01 PM