The entertainment industry is bearing the brunt of the Liquor Act, which saw the introduction of an Alcohol Levy and the severe cutback of entertainment hours.
The Communications Manager of the Botswana Musicians Union, Pagson Ntsie, said that dealing with the meager payments that Botswana artists get is not the only thing that is retarding their industry.
Ntsie said that the very disturbing Liquor Act, “an Act which leaves our musicians on the disadvantaged side once again” must be revisited. According to Ntsie, the police close down shows at 2am even though the 2am law was only supposed to regulate the bars and liquor store operating hours.
“When we talk to the Ministry, they say that they don’t know anything about it. The Station Commander at Broadhurst Police Station also says he does not know anything about the issue. So we don’t know who to talk to,” said Ntsie.
Ntsie suggests is an Act that will regulate the entertainment industry alone. He does not think it is fair for the entertainment industry to be put in one box with the laws that govern The Liquor Act. He believes artists should be allowed to perform for longer hours so that they can give the audience their money’s worth. And, he says, that way more people will be motivated to attend.
While passionately talking about some possible solutions to the issue at hand, Ntsie touched on how the Ministry can also give the Union the right to regulate the licenses of who can perform in the country, something Ntsie believes would be a step in the right direction because when the regulating is in the hands of BOMU, only five foreign artists will be allowed to perform in the country in a year. He plans to adopt the American style—where they will let the grass grow green first before anyone can come back to graze on some of Batswana’s hard-earned cash.
“Even when a herd of cattle is grazing. Once they finish grazing in one spot, you move them to another spot, so that the current spot can have enough time to grow more grass,” Ntsie said.
The passionate lad said that he would also make sure that the foreign acts pay a small percentage of their earnings to the country for making money in our country, something which he finds only fair considering that South Africa has started charging our local traditional groups for performing in their country.
“Our traditional groups used to go to South Africa every weekend to perform but that has since stopped when the South Africans started making them pay for it.”
Asked to comment on the issue, Rapper A.T.I, real name Atlasaone Molemogi, said that it is in fact true that local artists are paid very little compared to what South African and international acts get.
“Local artists are being undermined, ridiculed and disrespected,” he said, adding that it pains him when he realizes that he has added passion and dedication to his art, a passion which comes out when he is performing alongside South African and other international acts.
“Local artists always bring it on. We always give the audience their money’s worth. There is a need for change. And these promoters need us because the government has said for an international artist to perform, there has to be a local artist.”
Asked what he thinks of the Liquor Act, he said that the Act really affects their shows negatively as people are not willing to pay for a show they are going to see for a short while.
“Batswana usually go to shows at 10pm or 11pm and if it was you, would you pay for a show that you are only going to see for 30 minutes?”
A.T.I also said that there is no authority and monitoring on the industry. He further said that a conference with the right candidates would be appropriate to communicate their concerns. He concluded by saying that a march to the State House might also bring about positive results.
Broadhurst Station Commander Odumetse said that he preferred not to comment on the issue but as far as he is concerned there is no law that says shows should be closed at 2am. He said that he only knows that if there is noise in a built up area, that’s when the police can be called to come and control.
“I can’t comment too much on this issue but I can just say that if you are playing in a bar, and its closing time as required by the Liquor Act, we will close the bar. We won’t listen if you say that there won’t be any alcohol sold at that bar at 2am.”
Odumetse said that in his area, he doesn’t know of any shows held outside of bars that were stopped.