Actress Natasha Thahane topped the Twitter trends on Saturday morning after her interview on MacG's Podcast & Chill where she revealed that she received over R1m in funds from the government after reaching out to politician Baleka Mbete.
Natasha, who is the granddaughter of Desmond Tutu, told MacG that when she went to study in the US in 2017, she need help to finance her studies at the New York Film Academy.
She added that she then “made a call” to Baleka and asked her to help get her money to study. Baleka then allegedly reached out to the department of arts to arrange the money — in excess of R1m — that went towards Natasha's studies.
At the time, Baleka was the speaker of parliament and the ANC chairperson.
“I asked Mam’ Baleka (Mbete) and 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.’ She managed to speak to (the department) Arts and Culture and they were able to help me,” she said on the podcast.
Listen to the clip from the full conversation below:
Yoh 🤭 | Natasha Thahane implicating Baleka Mbete and Department of Arts and Culture there by #macgpodcastandchill
While others complete application forms, Nathi Mthethwa department gave her money because she is a granddaughter of Desmond Tutu. 🚮 https://t.co/InXl7gygVb
— TK_Nala (@NalaThokozane) November 27, 2021
However One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has called on sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa to clear the air on claims his department allegedly funded actress Natasha Thahane’s studies abroad, which amounted to more than R1m.
In a lengthy post on social media, Mmusi said a “conversation with the nation” was needed about Natasha's academic funding.
“Funding for education must come through the proper channels and must be allocated according to need. Our government is not doing enough for students and this must change,” he said.
“Education is one of the main ways to get families out of economic adversity and on a path to wealth building. We need to make sure our limited funds are used in the best way possible to maximise the nation's return on investment and to address national skills needs.”
Mmusi said the matter should be used to highlight the pressing challenges affecting many students in the higher education system, and both Natasha and the sport, arts and culture minister owe the public an explanation.
“I hope you can have a conversation with the nation about this academic funding. How much it was, how it was processed and your reflections on your personal use of networks to access state support. I think you do owe the public that much, Natasha,” he said.
Social media uses were left infuriated by the “flaunting of privilege” that they felt Natasha displayed by sharing how “easy” it was for her to get help from the government when many others — in worse financial situations — struggle.
In her defence, Natasha took to Twitter to share a screenshot of emails she sent to the department that allegedly went unanswered … until Baleka intervened.
“I applied for funding, no-one responded. Until the school assisted me get in contact with the department,” she wrote.