The future of the 29th South African Music Awards has been thrown in chaos as Siboniso Duma, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), pulled the plug on their involvement in a press conference held on Wednesday, October 25.
This follows an announcement by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) confirming that the Samas was returning KwaZulu-Natal after eight years.
But plans have come to a grinding halt after political party ActionSA put a spanner in the works.
The multimillion-rand event, which was set to take place in Durban in November, came under fire this week after allegations arose that KZN EDTEA planned to splurge R28 million on the Samas.
In a letter to ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, ActionSA said: “We contend that this is not only a blatant case of misuse but also potentially sinister, given the absence of an itemized budget with accurate and substantiated figures.
“While ActionSA supports the hosting of the SAMA Awards in eThekwini for its tourism spinoffs, we are opposed to the exorbitant reprioritsation of the provincial and municipal budget when there are more urgent needs the people of KwaZulu-Natal need addressed.”
Following this public statement, the MEC has called off all future planning for the popular event to be held in KZN.
MEC Duma said: “I have advised the department to stop the hosting of the South African Music Awards this year. Senior management has been mandated to engage with the Recording Industry of South Africa and report back to me as an executive authority.
“We will also report to the KZN Executive Council as the hosting of the awards was a collective decision.
“We reiterate the point that our hearts are with artists whose lives were destroyed by the outbreak of Covid-19. The SAMAs was their hope and the source of income ahead of the festive season.”
He said the official and public available documents had been weaponised against the department to scandalise the event and that figures shared are part of a “campaign of disinformation”.
In response, Nhlanhla Sibisi, CEO of RiSA, shared a press statement with media that read: “The Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA), the organiser of the SA Music Awards (SAMA) learnt with disappointment this morning of the eleventh hour decision by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) in KwaZulu-Natal to withdraw from SAMA29.
“We have a three year contract with EDTA and will be consulting with our contractual partners, to find out what led to this decision and carve a way forward. As such, we will advise in due course what the next steps for SAMA29 will be.
"SAMA remains the largest, most prestigious, inclusive and representative music awards event in the South African music landscape. We continue to attract considerable attention and support as well as market-leading viewership among televised music awards shows across the continent.“
The statement continued: “We note with dismay that a prestigious, credible and apolitical national cultural asset that has been in operation for 29 uninterrupted years, longer than any other award ceremony in South Africa and the continent, has been characterised as a conduit for looting.
“This is an assertion that we as RiSA strongly rebuke. It is problematic that an institution of great importance to the pulse of our cultural economy has been violated for cheap politicking”
In the meantime, the future of SAMA29 remains in limbo. The event is set to take place at the Durban ICC on November 17 and 18 with a live broadcast on SABC1.
Leading the nominations this year is the late AKA, with six nods for his album, “Mass Country”.
The rapper has been nominated in the categories Male Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Engineered Album, Best Collaboration (twice for “Company” and “Lemons”) and Best Produced Music Video. K.O follows with five nominations.