Johannesburg – Protesting celebrities yesterday called on fellow artists to boycott the upcoming municipal elections or risk being labelled as sell-outs.
Legendary kwaito star Eugene Mthethwa and leader of the protest addressed the anti-manifesto rally in Joburg yesterday where musicians, actors and dancers were gathered to protest what they termed as the disregard of artists by politicians and the government.
The arts industry has encountered many challenges since the introduction of lockdown measures in response to the Covid-19-pandemic, with many artists losing livelihoods due to restrictions that crippled the entertainment industry. The performers said the government only saw them as social cohesion agents.
Mthethwa said he was an ANC member for most of his life but had not renewed his membership because the ANC in its current form was not doing much to help artists.
He said the arts industry was divided because some artists were willing to sell their souls to politicians in order to get gigs and to have a steady income flow.
“No one cares about us so if we don't exist why would they be bothered with our votes. The president makes a state of the nations and says nothing about us.
“At their events we are an afterthought when they don't have budget they want us to perform and when they have budget they call Beyonce.
“They must call Beyoncé to campaign for them. Any artist that goes out and votes is a sell out,” Mthethwa said.
He said he was not surprised by the poor turn out of artists and celebrities who did not make it to the rally because they were scared of losing gigs.
“You will see them when they fall they will want our support and they will also want to speak about the challenges of artists. God uses David to take on a big challenge.”
Mthethwa said black artists in South Africa were suffering due to the legacy of apartheid in the arts industry.
He said it was becoming common for black celebrities to die broke or be smeared in the papers for scandals that make the Sunday papers.
“Who has seen a white artist dying poor what happened to the good Sundays we had when we had seven colours?
“Now we eat tears because of our brothers and sisters that write about us.”
Opera singer Sibongile Mngoma also added her voice to the artist's cause.
She said she had lost friends and colleagues who had killed themselves because they were struggling through the Covid-19 lockdown.
She said some had even gotten divorced because there was no income coming.
“We are the conscience of this nation. I have been without an income for 18 months.
“They walk with their big stomachs telling us to vaccinate but they don't care if we have eaten.”
The artists sang and chanted slogans vocalising their suffering through the Covid-19 pandemic.