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Artistes cry foul over discrimination



MASERU – Lesotho’s artistes are seething with anger after local political parties hired top South African entertainers to perform at last weekend’s rallies a few days before a key election.

Heavyweight stars such as Vusi Thembekwayo, Somizi Mhlongo, Teboho Moloi and DJ Maphorisa, Press and Ba2cada were brought in to wow the crowds as parties geared up for the polls.

But this has sparked a fierce backlash from local artistes who felt sidelined by the political parties.

According to the Global Rate Card of Vusi Thembekwayo, for the keynote speaker services in an African country including Lesotho, he charges M89 000 for 45 to 60 minutes excluding tax and M213 000 for four to eight hours.

DJ Maphorisa has also been pinpointed by South African media charging over M65 000 within the country, which increases depending on the place of venue. Lesotho’s artistes say the money paid to foreign artistes could have been used to support more local entertainers.

A local DJ, Shabba Kena, said it has become a norm that during rallies, “our political parties do not regard the local artistes”.Kena said he was once hired by one of the political parties in 2017.

He said he submitted a quotation of M11 500 for his system and the DJ services. However, they negotiated down to M9 500.

He said despite the lower price which was already negotiated, he was not paid. He said after a year, the party then paid him in small instalments.

Kena said international artistes have their standard prices which they always insist on. They cannot even come if payment is not fully made, he said.

He said the local artistes are being negotiated to play without any deposit. Kena said the entertainment industry is seriously neglected by political parties in Lesotho including the government.

He said big events which are being held in the country such as Letofe and the ’Maletsunyane Braai Fest, prefer international artistes over local artistes. He said local artistes are also contributing to this exploitation by accepting such low prices.

“I currently rely on South Africa gigs. South Africa even gives us more recognition than our country,” he said.

Actor Tseko Monaheng said in South Africa they are treated equally with other artistes in terms of payment and recognition.

“In Lesotho we are regarded as just funny people who are enticing people, not comedians,” Monaheng said.

“The prices (we get in) South Africa are way more than Lesotho’s prices,” he said.

“We have been battling with this money issue for a very long time but nothing has changed.”

He mentioned one incident where one of his colleagues in South Africa was invited to offer MC services at a rate of M10 000 and the very same event organisers approached and offered him M1 000.

“Basotho do not have respect for each other.”

He said customers claim that the South African artistes attract more numbers and make a good marketing for their businesses.

South Africa, he argues, “has set the platforms for the entertainment industry to grow while our government has failed the industry”.

The spokesperson of RFP Mokhethi Shelile said “the issue of the economy is about what people want and what can be provided in a certain economy”.

“You need an artist who is famous and loved by the people,” Shelile said.

“Our local artistes have not reached that yet,” he said.

He said even the prices are determined by the amount of influence the artist has on people.

“We are not sidelining any one,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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