Malawi models, musicians cry foul over Sand festival payments

Some musicians and models who were hired to the Sand music festival, which took place at Sunbird Nkopola in Mangochi a fortnight ago, have not yet received their payments, Nyasa Times  understands.

Speaking to Nyasa Times, one of the models, who did not want to be named, explained that before they left Mangochi on 15 October, after the four-day festival, Prince Chokotho accompanied by Lucius Banda and Darlington Ndasauka gave them a cheque to cash the following day.

“We were given cheques to cash any day after the 15th but I was surprised to get a call from a colleague who was in possession of the models cheque, saying Prince told her not to go to bank because there was no money in the given account,” she claimed.

“They were also given cheques. Others got part of their payments in cash, with the remaining amounts in cheque,” explained the model.

Patrons enjoying their time at the Sand Festival

According to the source, after some days, Chokotho and Ndasauka of Shire Events Towers, the company that hired them changed tune as they told them that they would get their money through Sunbird Tourism, one of the companies that partnered with Zembani Music Company to organize the festival.

“We were told the initial plan had changed and that we would get our payment through Sunbird, but when our colleague went there, Dan Tambala, who was representing Sunbird at the event, referred her back to Prince saying Sunbird did not hire models.

“Now they have only paid the bouncers and still playing games with us. I don’t know if they are doing that because we are girls. After all the hard work that we did at the festival, is this the way we should be treated?” she wondered, while disclosing that each model was supposed to get K15,000.

About 20 models were hired from Blantyre alone while others came from Lilongwe and Mangochi and it is believed that all of them have not yet received their payments.

While other artists may have pocketed their huge performance fees before the event, some local artists are yet to get their payments. One of them, who also asked for anonymity told Nyasa Times that they were still waiting for their dues.

Eti amwene tangoganizani mpakana pano kuli zii (just imagine until now they are not saying anything,” complained the artist but refused to comment further.

The festival attracted about 40 local acts, among them The Black Missionaries, Alleluyah Band, Skeffa Chimoto, Moses Makawa, BarryOne, Maskal, Piksy, Armstrong, Young Kay, Wycliffe Chimwendoh, Thocco Katimba, Great Angels, and others. International performances came from South Africa’s Professor and Makhirikhiri from Botswana.

When contacted, Chokotho of Shire Events Towers asked for some time to cross check and promised to call back but he never did and further attempts to talk to him proved futile as his phone went unanswered.

On his part, legendary musician Lucius Banda, who was the festival’s coordinating chairperson, in an interview admitted it was true that most of the people whose services were engaged at the event did not receive their payments and went on to say he sympathized with them.

“For the models and bouncers, the problem is many people ended up entering free of charge, that’s why some of them have not yet been paid, but we are still trying our best to pay them and to some extent we will even use our own money to settle their payments,” he said.

However, Banda pushed the blame on the models and the security personnel accusing them of selling wrist bands used to identify patrons to the three-year-old event, saying “most of them left the festival with full pockets.”

Said he: “It’s just that we did not want to paint a lousy picture of the event, that’s why we chose to handle matters professionally on our side and that’s why am promising that they will be paid as soon as possible.”

“As for the musicians, we have paid most them but we are still remaining with few and we hope to pay them soon as well,” said Banda.

The 2012 Sand Festival, which also got sponsorship from Airtel Malawi and National Bank of Malawi, was not fully patronized as compared to similar events such as the Lake of Stars, which was on a break this year.

The organizers had earlier told Nyasa Times that they had invested K38 million, but other local media later reported that they spent K15 million.

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