In a tweet on Wednesday, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he had spoken with the CEO of Toyota SA, Andrew Kirby, about their sponsorship of a concert that included controversial singer Steve Hofmeyr on the line-up.
Toyota had earlier said they didn’t want to dictate creative choices to the cultural events they sponsored, but Lesufi feels that they should not be supporting divisive events that don’t promote social cohesion.
Lesufi claimed that, after his “long telly chat”, Toyota was now willing to admit to having made a mistake and would be issuing a statement to this effect.
The MEC played a leading role in encouraging another big sponsor, MTN, to pull out of supporting the Afrikaans Is Groot (AIG) festival.
I had a long telly chat with the CEO of @ToyotaSA Mr. Andrew Kirby and we jointly agreed that they’ll no longer support anything that is divisive and doesn’t promote social cohesion.Because the concert is now over they’ll issue an appropriate statement to rectify their mistakes https://t.co/1vo3Zn0hVQ
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) March 20, 2019
In a statement released late on Monday, Toyota SA made it clear that they would continue to be a sponsor of the AIG music festival despite the controversy around Hofmeyr.
The most recent show, which has been a fixture for years, took place from March 14 to 17 in Cape Town at the Grand West Casino, and will be in Pretoria at the Sun Arena at Time Square Casino in November and December later this year.
MTN announced that it pulled out because of Hofmeyr’s inclusion in the line-up after they apparently already raised its concerns about it last month.
“Through its brand and network, MTN seeks to connect South Africans and bring people together and it’s unfortunate that by persisting with Hofmeyr, AIG is no longer helping serve that objective.”
Toyota South Africa Motors, however, said that they wanted to reassure customers and South African citizens at large that although they were “aware of social media comments relating to the involvement” of Hofmeyr, they were contractually not able to prescribe to the organisers on how to run their affairs.
“The contract is not prescriptive when it comes to the creative process, as this is outside the scope of the agreement.”
They said they had taken the matter up with the management of AIG, however, “clearly conveying its sentiments that the Toyota brand does not want to be associated with divisive elements”.
“In future, TSAM expects organisers of AIG to be more cognisant of artists whose involvement in the event could be divisive and based on this TSAM will act decisively in line with what the organisation stands for as a good corporate citizen.
“TSAM would like to reiterate that it supports various shows and events across different cultural spectrums without any prejudice. TSAM, as an organisation whose business ethos is built on respect for people, would like to reassure its customers and South Africans that it seeks to promote peace and unity in the country among all, and that it does not support any person or entity whose views and sentiments could be seen as sowing divisions.”
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)