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Entertainers want to go back to work

Business

Chris Theko

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic the entertainment industry has been the hardest hit all over the world. As millions went into quarantine, the festivals and clubs were forced to go into hibernation mode.

Lesotho was not spared as events, festivals and clubs were suspended due to the rise in Covid-19 cases. In March 2020 upon announcement of the emergence of the pandemic in neighbouring South Africa, Lesotho went into the harshest lockdown, months before it could record its first case.

The country was to later be the only country to have recorded nil cases even as almost all countries of the world were grappling with the pandemic in their shores.

When the virus first hit, it sent shock waves nationwide and saw all industries forced into hiding.

Then around November 2020 there was a partial reopening of industries whence the entertainment industry was also opened, this after massive exploits of industrial action by the stakeholders who included Djs, musicians and events’ organizers had embarked on a protest to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) offices to demand the reopening of the industry. 

The industry was closed again in January this year when the second amidst claims of a second-wave scare as epitomized by the surge in positive cases and was partially opened again March with strict restrictions.

The industry was closed again in the wake of the third Covid-19 wave in May 2021 and has been closed since.

The Deejays Association of Lesotho (DJALE) President Malefetsane ‘Dj Davertz’ Tsoeliane told Newsday Arts that they were never consulted before the industry was closed but they complied since they were promised by NACOSEC that when the positivity rate goes down the industry will reopen.

“We are aware that the Covid-19 positivity rate has declined so all we need now is to be allowed back to work because that was the promise we got from NACOSEC when they closed us,” Tsoeliane said. 

“But we are now being ignored by the same NACOSEC when we request a meeting to discuss the current situation; they are refusing to meet with us as combined stakeholders in the industry.

“From when they decided to close the industry, we were not consulted and we were not happy with that situation”. 

Tsoeliane stated that DJALE and the Lesotho Music Rights Association (LEMRA) are speaking in one voice to get the industry opened.

He mentioned that when they initially inquired about the closure that took place without the industry being closed without their input, the authorities asked them about the issue of compliance which was said is a big challenge facing the entertainment industry. 

“We were asked about compliance with the regulations if we were allowed to operate under the purple level restrictions, that question was very tricky although on the other hand you have churches, schools and the public transport which are all contributing to the rise in Covid-19 cases but are currently allowed to operate,” he said. 

Tsoeliane explained that they are pleading with the authorities responsible to make a provision for the industry to operate because their businesses are dying and their families are struggling.

“Most people who work in the entertainment industry are bread winners in their respective homes, now they cannot provide for their families, our children are being expelled from the very schools which are open because of school fees we can’t pay.

“Right now we have one of us arrested in South Africa where he was trying to find other means of working that side, Dj Rochester could not have had the misfortune he came across had we been allowed to operate in the country, just like when a Dj died earlier this year due to depression caused by not being able to work for his family,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, approached for a comment, NACOSEC Publicity and Media Manager Mateboho Mosebekoa said she was in position to comment on the issue.

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