Harare – New COVID-19 regulations announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week have thrown into disarray survival strategies by Zimbabwean musicians, who were becoming regulars at the country`s performing venues.
Since the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020, musical performances have remained banned in Zimbabwe. Musicians have sent out distress calls but their appeals have been superseded by public health considerations.
To sustain themselves, Zimbabwean musicians – big and small – have been flying to neighbouring South Africa on a weekly basis for live performances. Until May 30, South Africa had been allowing parties and musical shows to happen with crowds running into thousands for outdoor events.
However, new restrictions to contain a possible third wave of the pandemic include limiting events to 250 people outdoors and 100 indoors, and promoters say the numbers do not make business sense for live performances.
Zimbabwean sungura music star Alick Macheso cancelled two shows meant to celebrate his 53rd birthday in Germiston and Johannesburg last week. He was supposed to perform together with Nox Guni, a South Africa-based Zimbabwean singer.
“We were looking forward to the two shows in South Africa, but conditions have said otherwise,” Macheso wrote on his Facebook page.
And some fly by night promoters have taken advantage of the dry patch in Zimbabwe to book artists cheaply.
However, some are proving to be duplicitous, last month Van Choga was temporarily stranded in Cape Town after a promoter made off with proceeds from a show without paying the artist.
His travel fare was taken care of by benevolent music promoters and fans in South Africa.
Another dancehall artist, Enzo Ishall wrote a warning to fellow musicians on his social media urging them to be wary of dodgy promoters.