Government has been accused of a knee-jerk reaction following its decision to ban all music festivals at stadia and related places. The music industry was left in shock on Tuesday when Office of the President issued a savingram banning all music festivals at stadia and related places. The savingram stated that the decision came after the incident where one life was lost during the Gaborone International Music Concert in Gaborone. “The recent incident where one young person lost her life and many other attendants lost their valuables during the music festival at National Stadium on Saturday 02 September 2017 is regrettable,” reads the savingram from Permanent to the President. It stated that the decision affects both the planned and future events and that Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and that of Local Government and Rural Development must ensure that the measures are enforced. The knee jerk reaction from OP seemed not to have been discussed with relevant ministries as the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng took to the social media later promising to handle the issue. “I'm aware of the correspondence from the Office of the President with regard to what happened at the National Stadium during the recent music festival. We all condemn what happened there. I'm going to hold a press conference on Monday to explain the way forward with regard to security measures etc.
It is my responsibility to promote, grow and protect entertainment industry in this country. We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property etc., will be dealt with. I'm on this issue. Give me time,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Olopeng’s statement showed that the issue was not discussed with his ministry which is in charge of all the stadia in the country. The immediate casualty of the decision was the Francistown Jazz festival which was billed for yesterday (Saturday). The promoter of the show Soares Katumbela is said to have tried in vain to fight for the shown to be hosted as they had already paid the artists and for other logistics. He has reportedly passed on under unclear circumstances just when he has been awarded a presidential honour for his work in promoting arts. He was due to get the award during the independence celebrations later this month.
Govt’s trial and error
The MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale said that the decision to ban music festivals in stadia and related venues is consistent with the ad hoc manner in which Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) run government which is based on trial and error. “Decisions are more emotive rather than objective and sweeping decision are taken with little regard for those who will be affected. We cannot downplay the reality that life was lost but those who are responsible must be held accountable rather than make the whole nation suffer,” said Dr Butale. He said that it is high time government took the entertainment industry and appreciate that it can turn around the economy of the country and as such it must put policies in place to regulate it. He said one of the reasons that they are incidences of violence is because there are not guidelines on how shows must be conducted.