In response to a Sunday Standard enquiry, the Office of the President (OP) has released details regarding its deal with Big Dawg Productions, a company owned by DJ Fresh.
One detail contradicts the one that we published in last week’s edition. Our information was that DJ Fresh will pocket P8 million from 50-stop nationwide roadshow during which he will teach Botswana DJ tricks of the deejaying trade.We had reached out to OP to confirm this figure but had not heard back from it in time for publication. The response that came this past week from Oshinka Tsiang, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Information and Broadcasting Services) says that the figure is actually P7 356 306 and that the roadshow itself will cost P1.3 million.
Tsiang explained that the work is divided into two categories: “other services aimed at improving the output of our radio stations” and the roadshow, which started last month. The stations in question are Radio Botswana 1 and Radio Botswana 2, which are commonly referred to Radio Botswana (the first radio station in the country) and RB2 – which turns 30 this year. The first aim of the roadshow is to commemorate RB2’s 30th anniversary. The roadshow, which began in Kanye, will cover a total of 50 towns and villages. DJ Fresh was one of the first RB2 deejays.
“The roadshow is done in collaboration with Big Dawg Productions headed by Mr. Thato Sikwane, popularly known as DJ Fresh. The other aim of the roadshow is also to empower local artists through workshops run in partnership with COSBOTS, BEPA and BOMU to assist artists to take advantage of the 80 percent local music quota determined for the state broadcasting services,” said Tsiang.
COSBOTS refers to the Copyright Society of Botswana, BEPA to the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association and BOMU to the Botswana Musicians Union.
While they have not attracted as much publicity as the roadshows and are described in a language that suggests less importance, the “other services” are actually where the bulk of the money will go. Simple mathematics says that if the total cost is P7 356 306 and P1.3 million is for the roadshow, then P6 356 306 is for the other services. Tsiang identified the latter as brand refresh and digital strategy, on-air talent and mentoring as well as music programming and content development. The P1.3 million covers costs for “all requirements” of the roadshow. Such requirements are listed as accommodation, catering, travelling, artist performances, publicity, management, branding and workshops.
There has been a question of how DJ Fresh’s company (whose name we can’t abbreviate because that might come off as mischief on our part) clinched this lucrative deal. Tsiang’s explanation is that “the project was procured through direct appointment as allowed under the public procurement regulations.” While revealing, this statement doesn’t provide the illumination we had sought on which party, between OP and DJ Fresh, approached the other.
Industry sources (some members of BEPA and others of BOMU) say that the deal is actually the brainchild of a well-known BEPA official who brought in DJ Fresh to firm up chances of success for a proposal that was subsequently submitted to the government. That may or may be true but, in DJ-speak, is what the streets is saying. If true, that would have been a smart idea because DJ Fresh is a highly accomplished deejay who distinguished himself in a country (South Africa) with First World deejaying standards.
DJ Fresh has worked as a presenter at the following radio stations in South Africa: YFM, 5FM, Metro FM and 947. He was fired from the last two stations. Metro FM fired him for using foul language on air. The 947 situation was a bit more layered. A woman alleged on Twitter that DJ Fresh and a colleague, Euphonik, raped her in 2011 while she was still a second-year university student. The National Prosecuting Authority (South Africa’s equivalent of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions) laid charges against the duo but later withdrew them. They, in turn, sued the accuser for defamation but their case was also subsequently withdrawn because, as an NPA spokesperson explained, there “would be no possibility of a successful prosecution.” There has been reporting in South African media that the rape case has been reopened.
DJ Fresh has also done television work on three reality TV shows: Idols SA, SA’s Got Talent and Tropika Island of Treasure SA.
Within some groves of the Government Enclave, there is grave concern that whatever DJ Fresh’s credentials, this lucrative deal should have been handled in a more transparent manner. Sources tell us that some officers at Mass Media Complex, who should have been at the forefront of this deal, are actually clueless about its finer points.