Zimbabwe: Resumption of Shows Turns Music Sector Into 'War Zone'

15 October 2021

The inactivity and 'income haemorrhage' caused by the Covid-19 national lockdown has triggered emotions among artistes, resulting in some insulting promoters, while others are having 'wars' among themselves.

Despite of the lockdown having been relaxed and the sector steadily picking up, the past week saw top artistes engaging in cyber fights and taking a dig at some music promoters and big city spenders popularly known as "mbinga" (socialites) in street lingo.

Breaking the ice was high riding dancehall superstar Ameen Jaleel Yaseen, popularly known as Poptain.

The "Fadza Mutengi" hit-maker took a swipe at the promoters and 'mbinga' for taking musicians for a ride, soon after returning from his United Kingdom tour.

He made emphasis on the socialites that he gave shout outs to on his song "Fadza Mutengi", but never got any payment or token of appreciation while their brands and social status gained value.

"Pane vanhu varikusvibisa basa redu nekuda kungoimbwa kuti vawane mbiri. PaFadza Mutengi munhu wese wandakaimba hapana akatombondionawo kana dollar asi ivo vakaronga mashows vanoti tine half kana kuti we are family, zviriko here izvi," fumed Poptain in a highly charged statement on his official social media handles.

Interestingly, if loosely translated, his song "Fadza Mutengi" means impress the alcohol buyer, so it is not clear whether he was a literal recipient of such a gesture or it was just art.

However, his outburst was received with mixed feelings, with some music critics arguing that him and other musicians must desist from a dependency syndrome and stop giving 'shout outs' to the "wealthy socialites" whom they refer to as mbinga.

"I know music is a business, but they must not rely on these socialites and keep on receiving handouts," said one South Africa-based critic who refused to be named. "Unless maybe they have agreed on certain fees signed in black and white.

"The challenge is some of these young musicians get expensive champagne and whiskey from these socialites and when they fail to put food on the table, they cry foul and take it as an obligation to be looked after."

Some social media users were of the view that the chanters deserve to be paid because their "shout outs" grow the brands of some of the so-called socialites.

"You know your network is your networth so if these socialites' names are praised on such big songs, it increases their brand and network, making them clinch deals and more money, so they must pay artistes," said Pride Beni.

Hot on the heels of the Poptain drama was a tiff between veteran and award winning rapper Stunner (real name Desmond Chideme) who exchanged nasty words with dancehall musician Jah Signal over payments and performance fees.

Stunner accused Jah Signal of sabotaging him by offering to perform for free, resulting in his scheduled performance cancelled at the 11th hour.

It could not be immediately ascertained how much performance fees were due to him, but what is clear is that he had not signed a contract, hence he had no capacity to sue.

Jah Signal refuted the allegations and said he never back-stabbed Stunner.

He said was a very professional "high-end" musician and acts as such.

"We are a very professional outfit and we do not offer any FREE performances on the plate that easily unless they are for charitable causes close to our heart," said Jah Signal.

Two days ago, Stunner insisted in an interview on Star FM radio that he was wronged by Jah Signal.

He explained how the show organisers cancelled his performance on the day before it was to take place.

"I had to call their higher office, but to no avail," he said. "I had called them to check my performance time and other logistics."

Businessman and music promoter Spencer Madziya said both artiste and promoter should start by being professional.

"The relationship between an artiste and a promoter if not based on any professional ground is bound for disaster," he said. "Artiste management is of paramount importance, as Arts Promoters Association we firmly do not condone acts where creatives are abused in any way to promote either a brand or for profit.

"Contractual agreements are to be respected. We also have situations where creatives engage promoters, excluding their management, where no clear terms and conditions are laid out, then they cry foul when they are taken to every pub to perform for absolutely peanuts. Both creatives and promoters need each other, but no to abuse!"

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