Local artistes cry foul over UMAs

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE organisers of the Ultimate Music Awards (UMAs), have called for patience from local artistes, saying they will all be paid within two weeks for performing at the awards that were held on 18 November this year at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru.

Organised by the government-owned Ultimate FM radio station, the UMAs were introduced in 2014 with the aim of rewarding outstanding performances and motivating other artistes to work harder.

This year’s edition opened for entries in May and closed on 31 August. The categories included Hip Hop, Kwaito, Famo, Gospel, Urban Contemporary, Afro Pop, Music Video and Dance.

Some of the artistes recently visited the offices of the Sunday Express to express their displeasure with the organisers of the awards over delays in payments.

However, Ultimate FM’s Head of Programmes, Tello “Dallas T” Leballo, yesterday pleaded with the artistes to be patient as they were working flat out to ensure that everyone would be paid within the two weeks.

“They (artists) have every right to be angry but then it has never been our intention to delay the payments,” Dallas T said in an interview with this publication.

“The costs of UMAs are usually incurred by our sponsors but the problem is that they transfer money into the ministry’s (Ministry of Communications) consolidated fund and it takes time for us to access the funds hence the delay.

“We have tried to find a better way to speed up the process by asking the sponsors to transfer funds to Postal Services (being one of the sectors of Ministry of Communications) so that we can pay people via Postal Services and the promise is that in two weeks’ time they will be paid.”

Dallas T further mentioned that they consider the artistes to be ambassadors of Ultimate FM and there is no way they can sabotage them. He also mentioned that they held a meeting on Thursday with the concerned artistes to allay their fears regarding the payments.

Xpress People also learned that other artistes boycotted the meeting called by Ultimate FM on Thursday.

Those who attended say they informed that there were hiccups with sponsors hence the delays in paying them. They say they were assured they would be paid this week.

Last year South Africa based songstress, Leomile, cancelled her performance at the UMAs a day before the ceremony, citing payment issues.

The artistes further accused the organisers of hypocrisy by giving first priority to foreign acts who they say were paid before the event yet the awards are meant to uplift local music.

Responding to the accusations, Dallas T, said that foreign acts are invited in order to foster relations to make it easier for locals to work with them.

“Their argument is valid regarding foreign acts, but then we did a 100 percent local show in 2015 which was not a success.

“We try to boost the event by inviting foreign crowd pullers and the other aims are to foster working relations with locals and also for our local artists to weigh themselves against foreign counterparts.

“As soon as January we will have a meeting with all stakeholders to preview whether it will be profitable to run a 100 percent local show for the 2018 edition,” he said.

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