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Origin decry unpaid fees by Step-Up


Chris Theko

Two years since the end of music contest Step-Up season one and Origin, the band that was working with the organisers, is yet to receive their M15 000 in payment arrears.

The talent search competition that was organized by Khaya Holdings ran from early 2019 to October 2019 where Tamia Phooko was crowned the winner during a grand finale show held at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

Origin was the six-member band contracted to the competition to provide backing instrumentals and vocals to all the contestants. According to Karabo Phama a member of the band, in the agreement they had with Khaya Holdings, a fee of M80 000 was to be paid for their services for the first season. 

“We were called to be part of the competition as music directors and backing vocalists for the entire season one of Step-up and it was a big break for us looking at the magnitude of the competition,” Phama said. 

Phama who is the pianist of the band, admitted though that for the duration of the competition, the band was well taken care of in terms of logistics, accommodation and other basic needs hence the money they charged was separate from all other things. 

“The money we charged was M80 000 though they still took care of other basic needs such food and accommodation since we would have to travel at times to other districts. 

“There was no written contract between us and Khaya Holdings, everything was on verbal agreements. So the first week we were paid M20 000 and told the remaining would come once the sponsors have released more funds,” said Phama. 

He stated that they started getting worried when they realized that the competition was about to come to a close yet they were yet to be paid the outstanding amount of M60 000.

“A week before the grand finale we realized that the show was coming to an end without our balance being settled. This is when we staged a mini protest ahead of the grand finale and said we were not going to play on the day, that is when we received M35 000 and we were told the remainder would come later,” he said.

Phama added that from when the competition ended in October 2019, they were told by one of the organisers, Paul Banda of Khanya Holdings, that the rest of the money would be settled once all the money has been received from sponsors. 

For his part, Banda confirmed to Newsday Arts that that indeed the band is owed by Khaya Holdings an amount of M15 000 but said he was surprised to hear that the band is not happy about how matters around it are being handled.

“Yes, the band is yet to receive their remaining balance which is around M15 000, this is because there was no money even after the main sponsor had given us all the money,” Banda said. 

Step-Up was sponsored by Vodacom Lesotho with money to the tune of M1 million, which was to cover all of the competition logistics including prizes for the winners. The grand price included a brand-new Polo vivo and a record deal. 

“The plan was then to carry the rest of the debt owed to the subsequent season, and we told them this because we were certain that there was to be a season two from March 2020. However, that could not happen because of Covid-19 and we told them this,” he said.

Banda further said he believes the aggravation by Origin boils from a recent job that Khaya Holdings got to organize musical performances for the just-ended African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games opening and closing ceremonies.  

“What I think is happening is that the guys learned of a recent job that Khaya Holding got during the AUSC Region 5 games and their thoughts are that we are making money and have forgotten about them, no we have not forgotten them and still plan to pay them even if it means using the money we will be paid for the AUSC job,” Banda said. 

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