Despite the poor turnout at the costly Thank You SABC music concert at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, on Saturday, one of the organisers, singer and songwriter Mzwakhe Mbuli, was upbeat.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Mbuli said there was a “reasonable” crowd at the 40 000-seater venue. But there was in reality a modest attendance of about 1 000 people. Tickets for the event were sold for R100.
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“We had initially hoped the event would be free because it was celebrating an important milestone in the history of South Africa, where our own music is receiving the most airplay on SABC for the first time in 22 years,” Mbuli said.
He stressed that revellers would not have been charged to see their favourite artists perform live had many sponsors supported the event.
Mbuli admitted some artists were still to be paid and that the event’s organisers were now swimming in debt.
“It was tough having to raise funds because some of the artists would charge something in the region of R120 000 and we had no choice but to ask them to reduce their performance fees,” Mbuli said.
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“Planning the event was far more difficult than hosting it. We are still owing Orlando Stadium some money for staging and hosting the event there because they charge for an array of things, ranging from stadium lights, emergency services to the bigger part of the venue, which is the pitch.”
When contacted, SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng refused to comment on the event.
“This was not an event organised by the SABC,” Motsoeneng said.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago echoed Motsoeneng’s sentiments. He said the public broadcaster had no hand in the planning of the event, adding they were “just media partners”.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesperson Lisa Combrinck refused to comment on the matter.
Music promoter Morris Roda, probed at some point following a failed Miriam Makeba tribute concert, was among the key organisers of the event.
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The DA has criticised the public broadcaster for “spending millions” on the concert.
“Motsoeneng is thanking himself for pushing for 90% local content across the channels, despite the SABC running at a loss of R1 billion. This is at odds with sound financial management,” it said.