ANGRY artistes took to the streets of Maseru on Wednesday to demand that the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) permits the opening of night clubs to increase their chances of getting income.
The artistes argue that since night clubs remain closed, allowing artistes to perform will not help as they will not make any money in spaces where patrons cannot purchase alcohol.
Although artistes have now been allowed to resume performances starting on 1 October 2020, nightclubs remain closed.
Last Sunday, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro announced that the government was relaxing restrictions to allow more economic sectors to resume operations. The new regulations to effect on 1 October.
Among the sectors that are now allowed to operate is the arts sector while restaurants will now be permitted to serve meals to sit-in customers.
The measures are expected to go a long way in reviving businesses which have been forced to suspend operations ever since the government introduced stringent measures in March this year to contain Covid-19.
Addressing the nation on Sunday evening, Dr Majoro said the entertainment industry along with parks and recreational facilities will be partially allowed to resume operating under strict conditions.
“We are aware that artistes and the creative industry have been struggling and understandably so,” Dr Majoro said.
“We will allow them to resume for a limited time and expect them to hold activities in enclosed spaces where there will be control.
“They must work with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) before opening to ensure that their activities do not contribute to the spread of the virus.”
But artistes feel the measures are not enough and on Wednesday drove to NACOSEC offices to express their disappointment.
DJ Thizozo (born Thabo Tau), who is representing the artistes, said prior to their demonstration, they had tabled their grievances to NACOSEC but they were yet to be met.
Among their demands is a relief fund to help artistes whose income was wiped out since March when the country embarked onto a lockdown. The lockdown meant that artistes could not generate any income as live performances were also banned.
He said when Dr Majoro addressed the nation last Sunday, they knew that their grievances were not addressed.
“We knew that none of our grievances had been addressed because we were not consulted prior to the speech and the speech itself proved us right,” DJ Thizozo said.
He said Majoro’s speech just mentioned the entertainment sector in brief hence they decided to approach NACOSEC as a unit for another meeting.
“They told us that they have reopened entertainment but we are not happy with the conditions because clubs are still closed.”
“DJs and artistes work both indoors and outdoors but clubs make the most money.
“Allowing artistes to perform when alcohol is still banned during weekends is pointless… We might as well stick to online shows and people watch from home because no one will go to an event to spend the whole night sober,” DJ Thizozo said.
He said selling alcohol is the only way in which show organisers make their money and it is pointless to allow shows to resume when organisers are prohibited from selling alcohol during weekends when most shows are held.
Alcohol can only be sold from Monday to Friday from 8am to 7pm.
At the Wednesday meeting, he said they also successfully managed to increase the number of people permitted at a show from 100 to 500.