Music promoters hit by forex shortage

HARARE – Local music promoters are forging partnerships with their counterparts in other countries in a bid to get the necessary foreign currency to bring international artistes to Zimbabwe.

Due to the shortage of foreign currency in the country as a result of economic challenges the nation has been experiencing for decades, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) came up with an import payments priority list which seeks to channel foreign currency into the productive sector.

With gigs by international artistes in Zimbabwe clearly not a priority for the RBZ, 2 Kings Entertainment which has brought to Zimbabwe foreign artistes such as Tanzanian star Diamond Platnumz, Mafikizolo from South Africa, as well as Jamaicans Anthony B and Morgan Heritage-told the Daily News on Sunday that it has been forced to look elsewhere for foreign currency.

“We now have partners outside the country that will provide the foreign currency we need to bring a foreign artiste to Zimbabwe. Our partners are mostly Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who have business interests in Zimbabwe.

“We will pay in Zimbabwean bond notes to their businesses here in the country. We can also make purchases locally on behalf of foreign-based partners using bond notes,” said 2 Kings Entertainment spokesperson Dee Nosh, adding that the partnership with foreign-based Zimbabweans will also make it possible for them to organise concerts in other countries.

“We hope to take some Jamaican stars to the Gambia and as a follow-up to the collaboration between Jah Prayzah and Nigerian star Davido titled My Lilly, we intend to organise a concert featuring the two artistes in Nigeria.”

Dee Nosh was quick to point out though that sponsorship partnerships with international partners will only come into force next year because they paid in advance all the foreign artistes on their calendar this year.

“As 2 Kings Entertainment, we are different from other music promoters in the sense that we always plan ahead. We anticipated these foreign currency problems Zimbabwean music promoters are now facing and we paid all the foreign artistes we are bringing to Zimbabwe well in advance. We paid them last year,” Dee Nosh said.

The artistes that 2 Kings Entertainment have brought to Zimbabwe this year include Jamaican star Anthony B as well as Mafikizolo and Cashtime K.O from South Africa.

The music promotion company is scheduled to bring Mafikizolo back to the country later in the year. The award-winning South African group will perform at Odyssey Hotel in Kadoma on September 29 before rocking Harare the following day.

Efforts to get an official comment from the RBZ on the matter had not been successful at the time of going to print but an official at the apex bank, who is not authorised to comment, said there was nothing amiss with private companies securing their own foreign currency.

“We don’t know how they pay the foreign musicians maybe the promoters have an arrangement with other companies outside the country who assist them with the payments,” the central bank official said.

Due to the scarcity of foreign currency, most Zimbabwean music promoters are no longer organising concerts in the country involving international artistes.

Almost all the foreign gigs in Zimbabwe this year are being organised by 2 Kings Entertainment. The only significant gigs not being promoted by the award-winning local company are the forthcoming two concerts by Jamaican star Busy Signal.

The Jamaican star’s concerts are being organised by London-based Y2K Promotions run by Zimbabweans based in the United Kingdom.

Y2K Promotions is bringing Busy Signal to Zimbabwe as part of popularising the Southern African Music Arts (Sama) Festival which they have organised in the United Kingdom for the past 15 years.

Busy Signal, who held his maiden performance in Harare in 2015 at the Glamis Arena, will perform at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo on August 4 where he will share the stage with red-hot South African songstress Busiswa.

The Come Over hit-maker, whose real name is Reanno Devon Gordon, will then descend on the Glamis Arena the following day where he will share the stage with several top local artistes who include Soul Jah Love, Lady Squanda, Dadza D, Takura, Killer T, Freeman, Seh Calaz and Kinnah.

Another Zimbabwean promoter Clint Robinson of C & A Entertainment once told this publication that it was no longer profitable to bring international stars to Zimbabwe. He added that he now preferred to take international stars to Malawi.

“Apart from low level of discipline among Malawian fans on international gigs, the country laws have been relaxed, they are favourable to promoters unlike here in Zimbabwe,” Robinson told the Daily News on Sunday then.

A popular Zimbabwean music promoter who declined to be identified said it was no longer lucrative to bring foreign artistes to the country due to the various prohibitive charges the promoter has to bear.

“The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) takes five percent of the total budget of bringing in a foreign artiste. The total budget includes costs incurred when paying for the artiste’s accommodation, advertising, performance fees and all the other logistics.

“On the other hand, the Department of Immigration charges $500 for a Temporary Employment Permit. Strangely, the Department of Immigration does not accept payments in bond notes. As if this is not enough, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) charges not less than 15 percent of the artiste’s performance fee,” he said.

According to Nacz director Elvas Mari, a gig featuring a foreign artiste will only be cleared by the arts mother body upon provision of key documents.

“The organisers/promoters should be certified by National Arts Council of Zimbabwe to organise public events. Promoters should approach Nacz at least eight weeks before the event and the council will normally request for a contract between the artiste and the organiser.

“The organiser will then be issued with a letter that they take to Zimra and Board of Censors.

“The letter together with all the contracts and any other pertinent documents will be submitted to Zimra for tax purposes. Remuneration obtained from shows involving international performers is taxable,” he wrote in a newspaper column, adding that a performance certificate from the Board of Censors and a Zimra tax certificate should be availed to enable the applicant (organiser) to be cleared by Nacz to hold their public show.

After being cleared by the Nacz, the promoter will go to Department of Immigration for the issuance of a Temporary Employment Permit.

“Depending on the type of certification issued by Nacz, the organiser has to pay a fee to Nacz before such a show is cleared,” Mari said.

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