RiSA calls ActionSA out for misinformation that put the future of the 29th Samas in jeopardy

Nhlanhla Sibisi, CEO of RiSA. Picture: File

Nhlanhla Sibisi, CEO of RiSA. Picture: File

Published Nov 1, 2023


The Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA), who are the organisers of the South African Music Awards (Samas), are not taking the events that led to the cancellation of the 29th Samas ceremony, which was set to take place in Durban this November.

On October 25, the future of the annual Samas event was uncertain after Siboniso Duma, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), pulled the plug on their involvement.

The drama unfolded after political party ActionSA put a spanner in the works.

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 itemised budget with accurate and substantiated figures.”

The letter continued: “While ActionSA supports the hosting of the Sama Awards in eThekwini for its tourism spin-offs, 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.”

In a recent statement, RiSA called ActionSA out for allegedly spreading false information.

The statement by Nhlanhla Sibisi, the CEO of RiSA, read: “Sama notes with bewilderment the misinformation that has been circulating alleging that we had asked the government of KZN to sponsor the Samas for R8 million.

“We first became aware of the allegation in a ‘Daily Sun’ article where ActionSA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango made this assertion.

“We categorically deny that allegation and call on ActionSA to provide proof that our initial proposal was R8m as it casts a malicious aspersion that the Sama, South Africa’s most prestigious and longest-running music awards show, is a conduit for looting public funds. This is an assertion that we, RiSA, strongly rebuke.”

The statement further dives into statistics and explains what would have been an opening for job creation within KZN and three other provinces.

“Our partnership is a 6 to 12-week campaign per year that has 14 touch points that would span the length and breadth of the province and also stretch to three other provinces.

“All in the name of positioning and marketing destination KZN through a programme of action that would directly benefit and stimulate the creative sector along as igniting the hospitality, retail, transport and informal sectors with a large number of beneficiaries being SMMEs owned and operated by previously disadvantaged groups as defined by our country’s legislation,” the statement read.

RiSA also shared that the funds would have been used for infrastructure, tech, PA, decor, catering, talent, production and key personnel to achieve the desired successful outcome.

RiSA said: “These outcomes include delivering three TV shows for our broadcast partner: a live to tape red carpet show; a delayed broadcast lifetime achievement gala dinner and the live broadcast awards show.

“Projected costs of all 14 touch points have also been costed in conjunction with suppliers, which RiSA engaged.”

RiSA’s statement concluded with: “Like the rest of South Africa, we only learnt of the decision in the MEC’s press briefing and not through prior consultation which would have been befitting of our partnership.”

But ActionSA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango defending their actions.

He said: "SAMAs shouldn't blame us (ActionSA) for cancelling their event, they must blame the government, I don't know why they are holding us accountable.

"We must thank the whistle-blowers who came out and shared the information.

"RiSA must be angry at the government for tainting their image, they should challenge the government. "Government keeps saying this is political, it's not about politics it's about accountability.

"We just brought the funds to light, it's not us who said cancel the event."

Mncwango said their issue was never with the RiSA but rather with the KZN government.

Mncwango said he wrote to Ramphosa asking him to intervene over the expenditure on the event, to which the eThekwini municipality had committed a further R25 million in funding.