Discord blocks musical fest

2011-11-26 18:47

Tension between the ANCYL and Mpumalanga’s premier, David Mabuza, might be the reason the 3rd yearly Sixties Weekend music festival flopped last month.

Two provincial departments – economic development, environment and tourism (dedet) and safety and security – withdrew their sponsorship at the last minute, causing the festival’s major drawcard, US musician John Legend, to cancel his performance on October 15 due to late payment of his R4 million fee.

The third department, arts and culture, allegedly also dilly-dallied over injecting R400 000 into the event and ended up not paying.

Molite Productions, which was responsible for bringing Legend to the party, apparently managed to pay R2 million upfront, but struggled to pay the difference when government withdrew.

Dedet has been sponsoring the Sixties event since its inception three years ago, as well as the Metro FM Music Awards which started in the province last year in the name of tourism development. The department gave R12?million for the Metro FM Awards this year.

Molite Productions’ owners are friends with ANCYL deputy president Ronald Lamola, whose fall-out with Mabuza emanates from the league’s intention to unseat President Jacob Zuma in Mangaung next year.
Molite Productions’ marketing manager Sam Sekgota declined to comment on the fiasco, which was exacerbated by a heavy storm which also prompted many local artists to cancel.

“Whatever happened is water under the bridge. We’ve gone back to the drawing board to organise another big event, and we’ll give vouchers to people who decided not to come because John Legend was not performing,” Sekgota said.

When it became clear that Legend would not arrive, Sekgota said on the company’s website: “We have done all in our power to salvage the situation, but it was unfortunately unavoidable.”

Two days before the event, Legend tweeted: “I’m very sad to relay the news that my show in SAfrica has been rescheduled. Just know that I am very disappointed. My flights were booked, my schedule was cleared.

I was ready to do the show. Issues with the promoters/ production company made it impossible, so we’ll reschedule and announce the date shortly.”

Government and entertain-ment industry sources said the departments withdrew to avoid annoying Mabuza and that Molite would not want to criticise government as they would hope to mend their relationship.

“Economic development MEC Norman Mokoena and safety and security HOD Thulani Sibuyi said they were withdrawing because of their association with Lamola,” said a source.

“Although they eventually raised the outstanding money from other funders, it was too late as it took time for the money to clear due to Reserve Bank processes,” he said.

Lamola said he was on friendly terms with the organisers and had heard their association with him had cost them financially.

He added that he and Kgotso Motloung, the Mpumalanga ANCYL chairperson and Gert Sibande executive mayor, had introduced Molite to the right people in government when they introduced the concept three years before.

“Certain people had the impression I was going to get money from Molite Productions. What I understand is that they’ve not even reached a level where they make a profit,” Lamola said.

Mokoena’s spokesperson Mohau Ramodibe said he didn’t know if Mokoena had spoken to Molite about the withdrawal, while his safety and security counterpart, Moeti Mmusi, did not answer written questions.

Arts and culture spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said: “There’s R400 000 for sponsorship but we didn’t pay because the service was never rendered.”

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