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‘SAMA is not a superfluous party’ – Event in doubt after KZN govt’s 11th hour decision

The CEO said the SAMAs were going to create over 150 new job opportunities and over 100 musicians and practitioners would have benefited.

In a statement the CEO of the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) Nhlanhla Sibisi said he was dismayed that the awards have been characterised as a conduit of looting.

Sibisi defended the allegations that the awards ceremony was simply a big party that wastes the state’s money.

“The SAMA is not a superfluous party, any such assertion flies in the face of the contribution made by the SAMA to the Mzansi Golden Economy,” said Sibisi.

RiSA is the organiser of the SA Music Awards (SAMAs) and Sibisi said the organisation “learnt with disappointment this morning of the 11th hour decision by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) in KwaZulu-Natal to withdraw from SAMA29.”

On Wednesday morning the KwaZulu-Natal government abandoned its controversial R28 million plan to host the SAMAs ceremony in Durban next month.

“Having consulted widely with the executive council and other stakeholders, I have advised the department to stop the hosting of the South African Music Awards this year,” Duma said.

The department management was meeting with the recording industry to inform them of the decision, which was also being communicated to the provincial cabinet, as the hosting of the SAMAs was “a collective decision”.

He said the R28 million price tag was “part of a campaign of disinformation” aimed at “sowing confusion” and that the “actual amount of money that has been confirmed by treasury and [the department of economic development, tourism and environmental affairs] is around R20 million before VAT”.

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Lost economic benefits

Sibisi defended the allegations that the awards ceremony was simply a big party that will waste the state’s money. He claimed that the awards stood to benefit the creative sector as well as to ignite a number of other economies.

“Contrary to spurious allegations, our conversation with the City of eThekwini had been on infrastructure and logistics support and did not include any financial contribution,” the CEO said.

“In addition to a provincial sponsorship which was not sufficient to cover all the production, eventing and promotional needs, the SAMA still had to solicit and rely on the generosity of commercial sponsors in organising this proudly South African annual event.”

Sibisi added the SAMAs were going to directly create more than 150 new job opportunities and more than 100 musicians and practitioners would have performed across the SAMA29 programme which included the nominees announcement, regional and national activations, public viewing area, non-broadcast awards as well as the live broadcast show.

“Further to these events, affiliate partnerships with outlets across the province were being concluded to stage pre-parties that would have created the opportunity for at least a further 20 local and SAMA nominated artists to perform,” averred Sibisi.

According to the CEO the SAMA was in the process of confirming up to 350 rooms per night across various hotel groups between 12 and 20 November 2023.

“These hotel groups would have further benefitted from providing accommodation to the estimated 3500 to 4000 South African music supporters business who would have visited the province from across the country, the continent and the world. Many numbers had been bandied about as the alleged sponsorship amount from EDTEA and we wish to categorically state that none of them were a true investment made by the department.”


“We note with dismay that a prestigious, credible and apolitical national cultural asset that has  been in operation for 29 uninterrupted years, longer than any other award ceremony in South  Africa and the continent, has been characterised as a conduit for looting,” said Sibisi on Wednesday afternoon.

“This is an assertion that we as RiSA strongly rebuke. It is problematic that an institution of great importance to the pulse of our cultural economy has been violated for cheap politicking.”

The statement concluded without giving a definitive answer about the future of the 29th edition of the awards. “Further information will be shared on the future of SAMA29.”

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