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MBABANE – There is a rise in the number of artists from neighbouring South Africa (SA) who are booked to perform in the kingdom but end up not holding their end of the deal  and disrespecting their local fans because of ‘outrageous demands’.

Such an incident was seen this past weekend when an artist, Thuli ‘Thuli P’ Phongolo arrived in the kingdom and ended up refusing to perform at the Epic Gig IV. She mentioned to the organising team that the accommodation and a few other things were not up to her standard.  Even after the organising team had listened to her demands and gave her what she had asked for, she later refused to perform at the intended venue. This is not the only instance where an SA artist has actually arrived for an event but leave without performing, as SA’s Gospel sensation Ayanda Ntazi did the same during the last MTN iPraise event. It was mentioned then that the artist complained about the stage and further asked for 10 rooms for himself and his backup singers, not to sleep in but to use as changing rooms.  


After being denied all this, the artist left the venue before performing even though he had been paid. This publication spoke to a few local promoters and a member of the Eswatini Events Managers and Promoters Association (EEMPA) to get ways in which Eswatini would successfully host shows without any hiccups from artists that are scheduled to perform. The first events promoter who is also an artist manager who was contacted was Mbekezeli ‘Culolam’ Dlamini who has been successfully hosting events for quite a number of years, recently Farmers Market. A key pointer to avoid, that Dlamini mentioned is the gentleman’s agreement. Gentlemen’s agreements are informal, unwritten agreements between two parties to undertake a transaction or other commitment. These agreements are not legally binding but are instead backed by the integrity, social norms, and peer pressure of those involved and their social networks.

Dlamini mentioned how verbally an artist and promoter will agree on something but the physical copy will say something different which will be the valid binding agreement between the two parties. “This is business so a gentleman’s agreement is not the rightful way to do business because there is no evidence that may bind an artist liable for their action if it bridges their agreement,” said Dlamini. Professionalism is key when doing business and it boils down to even the form of communication and it was urged that emails should be the main communication platform.  


It is worth noting especially to both artist managers and events promoters that marking down the busiest weekends from where the booked artist is from and even where the event is to be hosted is important. This is to avoid instances whereby an artist is booked five months prior to an event but the actual dates of the event are during one of the busiest weeks in the country where the artist is from, especially when it comes to entertainment. The best example would be from this past weekend as it was the famous Durban July weekend and most artists from SA were either booked to perform there or attending. That would have made it hard for them to attend a show in Eswatini.

It was highlighted by Dlamini that contracts should be properly read by promoters to understand everything that the artist will require in order to have a clause so that if something seems too much for them, they can go back and speak about it further. This is where it was discussed that a need for an intervention for EEMP to enlighten local promoters on how to deal with artist bookings and handling things like contracts. EEMP member, Mongie Mabuza’s first point when interviewed was on the issue of contracts where he mentioned that promoters should make their own contracts when dealing with artists.


“Local promoters have adopted a tendency where they rely solely on the contract that they are given by the artist and never forward their own. This is important for the two parties to know what each of the involved individuals is expecting and willing to offer before they reach an agreement,” said Mabuza. The association has been hosting workshops and is currently working on another one which Mabuza will be hosted at a date and venue to be announced. Eswatini Events Managers and Promoters Association (EEMPA) is an association with the sole aim of regulating all events in Eswatini. Formed in 2021, the association was pioneered with a number of objectives which include promoting the spirit of mutual cooperation and respect among events managers and promoters, organise training seminars and secure sponsorship.  

During the launch of the association, seasoned choral music conductor Mathokoza Sibiya, who is the Secretary of the association shared that the coalition would advise government through the Eswatini National Council of Arts and Culture (ENCAC) on issues of events and the industry. “We will affiliate to any local or international organisation whose aims and objectives are to support arts. We will also cooperate with other associations, bodies or organisations whose aims and objectives are similar to those of the association,” Sibiya said.  


It is worth noting that EEMPA is the first association formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chairperson of the association is Mthunzi Zwane until the new elections are conducted.
Event organisers cannot host any event without informing the association and there are legal actions taken against those who do not have certificates when hosting events. Organisers would be required to pay E150 for the hosting certificate at the ENCAC offices. There is also an annual membership fee of E500 per member. Any event manager or promoter permanently living in Eswatini, irrespective of race, colour or nationality, will be eligible to join and membership will be duly confirmed after the event manager or promoter has paid a membership fee as legally prescribed by the association from time-to-time.