Nanso ke indoda yakoMhlanga iyakhuluma. Fundani lizizwele what he upholds. Mhlawumbe yikho okwagolomba izitha ziqiniso lobuThwakazi obuqotho,
Amakhosi Press Statement
by Cont Mhlanga
Monday, July 24, 2006
It is with a great deal of frustration that I find myself literally forced to issue this press statement to explain why Amakorokoza has not been appearing on ZTV over the last two weeks and to explain why it is unlikely to appear next week or any other time thereafter.
The need for me to make this public explanation has come about after receiving numerous media enquiries today on why Amakorokoza is not being screened. These enquiries were apparently triggered by the management at ZTV who seem determined to mislead the nation about the real reasons behind this unfortunate situation.
In a futile attempt at covering up the fundamental issues behind the non screening of Amakorokoza, ZTV management have been deep-throating their media contacts telling lies through leaks that Amakhosi have failed to produce the series.(Sunday News 23 July 2006)
I know about this unprofessional deep-throating because the same lies were sent to me by ZTV CEO, Susan Makore, only yesterday through an email that purported to ??express concern at the failure by Amakhosi to produce an episode for Tuesday 18 July 2006. This was after ZTV unvailed $150 million by Tuesday 11 July 2006 to Amakhosi?.
Yet the truth is very different.
What is at stake here is not just one episode for Tuesday September 18, 2006 but eight episodes that are remaining for this season which has 13 episodes. Amakorokoza is a commissioned production by ZTV and as such Amakhosi merely produces it for ZTV. This means that ZTV must pay in advance for the production at the going rates in terms of prevailing production costs.
Unfortunately, ZTV has been unable to pay market rates in advance and on time for the production of Amakorokoza as commissioned by ZTV itself. For this season, Amakhosi struggled to get ZTV to pay for the five episodes that have been screened.
Then ZTV took unprofessional advantage of the screening of live matches from the world football cup in June to suspend the screening of a number of local programs including Amakorokoza.
During that time of the live broadcast of the world football cup matches, ZTV should have paid Amakhosi in advance and in full the market cost of producing the remaining eight episodes of Amakorokoza. But for reasons best known to itself ZTV did not make any payment whatsoever. Not even a cent.
How then was Amakhosi expected to produce any episode without any payment from ZTV throughout the month of June 2006 when football was the order of the day on the television screen?
As admitted by Mrs. Makore in the email she sent me yesterday, a payment of $150 million is alleged to have been made on Tuesday July 11, 2006 which was exactly the first day to screen Amakorokoza following the end of the world cup finals on July 9, 2006.
It is very unprofessional and very insulting for ZTV to have expected Amakhosi to produce an episode on the day of its scheduled screening when five weeks had gone by without any payment or action. Amakhosi is very tired of being treated in this flippant and unprofessional manner by ZTV and ZBH and we are no longer prepared to accept it anymore.
Even worse is the fact that the alleged payment of $150 million made on July 11, 2006 was done in very bad faith.
To begin with, ZTV insisted that this amount represented the cost of five episodes at $30 million each. Yet every fool in the industry knows that you cannot have an episode of a production like Amakorokoza produced for $30 million in this hyperinflationary environment where inflation is more than 1000%. The figure of $30 million per episode for Amakorokoza is a joke that is not funny at all. Yet that is what ZTV insists should be the cost of producing an episode of Amakorokoza. We suspect that there is a sinister agenda behind this insistence.
As a matter of fact, which can be confirmed by anyone in the industry, the bare minimum cost of an episode of Amakorokoza now is $250 million. As such, the $150 million ZTV says it paid on July 11, 2006 is no where near enough for one episode. Yet ZTV claims this amount should have been enough not just for one episode but for five episodes. You can understand why Amakhosi feels insulted.
What further compounds this insult is that the $150 million in question was actually not meant for Amakorokoza but for Continental Africa Entertainment (CAE), the distributors of Inspector Bediako (a Ghana production) that is screened on ZTV. Mrs. Makore knows that ZTV overpaid CAE for seven out of 26 episodes of Inspector Bediako by $150 million.
Then, clearly as an afterthought, ZTV directed on July 11, 2006 that the $150 million overpayment to CCE should be transferred from the Inspector Bediako account and paid to Amakhosi to pay for five episodes of Amakorokoza. If CAE had not been overpaid for seven episodes of Inspector Bediako, or if CAE had credited the Bediako account for the remaining 19 episodes that are yet to be paid for, then there would have been no money to pass over to Amakorokoza.
Obviously, Amakhosi is not amused by this kind of unprofessional conduct. What particularly irks Amakhosi is that we have been subjected to this kind of unprofessional conduct for much too long.
A cursory examination of the history of the relationship between ZTV and Amakhosi would reveal a host of unhappy experiences. Despite being very popular with viewers across the country, Friday Live at Amakhosi was suffocated and ultimately killed by ZTV through lack of funding and other trickery. The same fate met the hugely popular Sinjalo while political intrigue killed Mopani Junction, a radio program produced by Amakhosi and MFD
At Amakhosi we have assisted eight musical groups from Matabeleland and produced numerous videos for each of them. Yet ZTV has refused to screen these videos using flimsy excuses which are designed to undermine and underdevelop content and talent from our part of the country.
The latest victim is Amakorokoza. Naturally, I have had to ask myself an obvious question that anybody else in my situation would ask: But why?
My considered answer to this crucial question is that there is a very worrying lack of a political will, let alone professional commitment, at ZBH and indeed the Ministry of Information and Publicity, to promote content and talent from the southern region of our country.
That is where the problem is and there are many examples besides what Amakhosi has suffered. Just recently, the Ministry of Information and Publicity excluded from the Umdala Wethu Gala many key and well established artistes from the southern region on shockingly flippant grounds that the gala is a national event.
So why should key and well established artistes from the southern region be excluded from a national event? Over the years, we have all noticed that when Umdala Wethu Gala was held in Mutare, Manicaland?s best artistes led the performing bill in order to ensure wide attendance by the locals. The same has happened in various national galas held in places like Kwe kwe, Masvingo, Harare, Chinhoyi, Bindura.
But not in Bulawayo!
When the Umdala Wethu Gala was held for the first time in Bulawayo this month to honor the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo suddenly a new excuse was invented by the powers that be to say a number of major Matabeleland based artistes would not perform because ?this was a national event?. What an insult and what a shame!
To us at Amakhosi the scandalous exclusion of Matabeleland based major artistes, who are not just national in their own right but are also international in terms of their reputation, demonstrates beyond doubt the lack of political will to define and do national things in a way that treats all regions of this country equally and fairly.
Why should some regions be more national than others?
Why should it be national for Northern artistes to feature prominently in galas held in the northern part of our country, their home towns, when it is not supposed to be national for southern artistes to feature prominently in galas held in their region, their home towns?
If you look at various programs currently on ZTV, you will find that this same sick logic is there. Content and talent from the northern region of our country, especially Harare, are given all the support necessary by ZTV. But content and talent from Matabeleland is treated in a shoddy manner as was seen not just in the recent Umdala Wethu Gala but also in the mistreatment of a host of Amakhosi productions.
It now seems that, according to the powers that be in this government through ZTV, content and talent from Mashonaland is by definition national while content and talent from Matabeleland is by definition tribal and South African. This is why there is a terrible imbalance not just on national television but also on national radio and indeed the country at large.
We at Amakhosi have tried our best to contribute national content and talent from Matabeleland but we have not received the necessary cooperation from ZTV not to mention from the Ministry of Information and Publicity that has been particularly ?camelion? towards us in particular and others in the southern region in general.
We believe the reason for this is that Amakhosi has no historical relationship with Zanu PF because of its well known roots in PF Zapu . We have tried but failed to find any other reason why we are being short changed except this fact of our identity and roots. The discrimination is therefore political.
When Professor Jonathan Moyo was Minister of Information, we noticed some positive changes and that?s when programs like Friday Live and Sinjalo really took off. Amakorokoza started during that time. Indeed, even the galas were started by Professor Moyo and they were more inclusive, more diverse and they respected all artistes in ways that we are no longer seeing.
Even the ZTV banner, ?Sisonke? was introduced under Professor Moyo and many of us started believing then that, yes for sure we were coming together as one nation under the ?Sisonke? banner. But things have changed and the ?Sisonke? banner on ZTV is now just a false political slogan. This confirms to us the importance of political will in the development of truly balanced and representative national content.
Now things are going back to the old days of discriminatory treatment of talent and content. Southerners are once again ?tribal? while northerners are ?national?. This is just not acceptable in this day and age.
Please excuse me because I have to ask this question, ?Is ZTV a national public broadcaster or it is just a Zanu PF party public broadcaster?? Can some one out there answer me?
In order to solve this problem, and going by the systematic mistreatment and marginalization we are getting with no protection and support from the Ministry of Information and Publicity through ZTV, we believe the only fair thing is that we should be given the opportunity to prove that we too are national by being given the opportunity to develop and promote talent and content from the southern region of our country for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
We want to do for our country from our region what northerners are doing from their region for the country.
That is the only solution we see.
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