Monday, January 17, 2022

Greetings to our New Minister Hon. Thapelo Olopeng

It is very important to congratulate you for your victory in Tonota after grueling election campaigns. I also welcome you as our Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. I know you are swamped with requests for breakfast meetings by BNYC, BNSC and other sports and youth movements and as the arts industry this is not a shock as we are very well aware that our request to meet you will always be difficult because we are always treated as last born children in the Ministry at the expense of the development of Youth and Sports.

Hon. Olopeng I am writing this letter to give you brief first hand information about the state of the arts in Botswana. The arts in Botswana are paralysed by lack of Political will. Some decades ago we were promised a National Arts Council, we were shocked when a new sports bill was passed in parliament while the National Arts Council Bill has been in the offing for more than 30 years. It is a fact most artists if not all are disgruntled and bitter because they are not treated equally like Sports Personalities or even Youth Entrepreneurs.

Moving forward, we have a serious problem with Copyright Matters which are housed at Ministry of Trade and Industry. Despite having a Blank Tape Levy, the practitioners don’t know how it works, though some months ago a call for proposals was made. There is a rumour that a Health Promotion institution was funded and almost all artists’ proposals were turned down. Now, the question is what is the role of this levy? Piracy in this country has reached an all time high but the levy has millions that remain unused. We would like you to step in and maybe ask the President to move this Levy to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture just like the Alcohol Levy was moved from Ministry of Trade and Industry to Ministry of Health.

Moving to the issue of Royalties, we have an organisation called COSBOTS, one of the most corrupt and manipulative organisations to be formed since independence of Botswana. The Board has been in place for 8 years. Appointments for board members are made outside the AGM to protect the interests of certain people. Corruption is rife there with people amassing wealth at the expense of artists. There is a board member who is sitting on a P1.5 million a year tender. How can this happen in Botswana? Can a board member of BDC, BITC or any govt Parastatal be allowed to have a tender in those instituitions? So many musicians upto now have not received a single thebe even a statement of royalties.

Moving forward, there is also a problem with funding, financing and tooling of the Department of Arts and Culture. The Department is underfunded but is expected to meet expectations of its stakeholders. We would like you to please intervene and make sure the Department of Arts and Culture is given all the attention and resources it requires to meet the global demands of the arts industry. There are so many problems in the arts like trading hours of festivals, piracy, lack of Arts Council, Lack of Venues which we hope you will address in the next 5years. There was a undeveloped Plot somewhere in Block 7 which was said to be reserved for development of a state theatre nako kgolo ke eno.

In conclusion we look forward to working with you and are very excited to have a new politician who is not clouded with past history.

Yours In Music

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