Controversial music promoter Morris Roda – earlier investigated by the authorities after a failed Miriam Makeba tribute concert which cost taxpayers millions – has emerged as one of the key players behind the eyebrow-raising Thank You SABC Music Concert scheduled to be held at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Roda’s involvement raises more questions about the show‚ including where the funding is coming from to get it off the ground.
TMG Entertainment was told by several top artists billed to perform at the bash that Roda was the agent who contacted them about performing at the show.
Roda was investigated by the Hawks in 2009‚ according to reports‚ after the Department of Arts and Culture demanded the return of money paid to his company‚ Morris Roda Productions‚ for a Miriam Makeba tribute concert that was due to be held but which never materialised. At the time the department issued a statement saying that R4m had been allocated to sponsor artists for the event and R3m of this had already been paid to Roda’s company. The department ditched the deal after concerns about the project.
Sunday World later reported that the Hawks were investigating the case to find out what happened to the R3m.
Roda declined to comment on his role in the SABC event when contacted on Thursday. “Who is telling you that I am involved? Follow the channels and speak to Mzwakhe. You are out of order.”
Organisers of the SABC bash this week claimed that the arts and culture department would help with funds to ensure the Thank You SABC Concert went ahead. But the department denied on Friday that it would pay any money towards it.
Management for AKA and Jack Parow confirmed this week that it was Roda who had made contact regarding the concert and negotiated performance fees‚ travel arrangements and performance times.
TMG Entertainment on Thursday reported that AKA‚ Parow and Kwesta said that they had not yet received payment and would not perform at the show until they had their money.
An initial press release earlier this week‚ sent out on behalf of the SABC‚ claimed the public broadcaster would be footing the bill for the concert.
But then the SABC denied this saying that the press release sent out was not on its behalf and that it was only acting as a media sponsor‚ giving event organisers airtime on its various platforms to promote the show.
A day later another press release was sent out naming Phumelela Entertainment as the producers and hosts of the show.
But this company’s alleged involvement raises even more questions.
Company registration records obtained by TMG Entertainment indicate Phumelela is in the process of being deregistered for not complying with statutory annual returns to the companies registrar.
The accountants for Phumelela are listed as Hlabano Accounting.
An accountant at the firm‚ who did not want to be named‚ said Phumelela was involved in organising concerts but said he did not know anything about the upcoming Thank You SABC Music Concert.
“I spoke to the director on Monday and as far as I know there are no plans to be involved in the show. I would have known if they were (going to be involved)“
Mzwakhe Mbuli‚ who the SABC has said is spearheading organising the concert‚ on Thursday refused to elaborate on his position at Phumelela‚ only saying that he was involved.
“You are digging deep. That doesn’t matter. I am not a director. I am involved.”
When asked how the concert was being funded‚ Mbuli said that there were no sponsors as yet.
“We don’t have money. We are hoping to pay artists from the proceeds. Some people have given us special rates. We are sure that it will be a success and that after that we will get sponsors. This is the first show. Arts and Culture (The Department of Arts and Culture) will help us.”
But Wynand Myburgh‚ Jack Parow’s manager‚ said Roda had told him that the SABC was funding the event and that the money to perform had been deposited and was waiting to be cleared.
Meanwhile the Department of Arts and Culture confirmed that it had received a request to fund the concert‚ but said that it had declined the request.
“We‚ the Department of Arts and Culture is not funding the concert. However‚ we were approached by the concert organisers and we then turned their request down as it was a short notice for our consideration in view of DAC’s internal processes‚” said Zimasa Velaphi the chief director of Communication and marketing at the department.
The SABC has confirmed that it is aware of Roda’s involvement in the concert saying that he is responsible for the production of the show. The public broadcaster‚ however‚ said it would not be drawn on commenting on Roda’s controversial past‚ saying it had nothing to do with the hiring of him.
“We are not aware of Phumelela being deregistered. That is a question for Mzwakhe. This concert would have gone ahead with or without the SABC’s support‚” said the broadcaster’s Kaizer Kganyago.
Mbuli on Friday refused to answer any further questions about the concert‚ saying that Times Media had already contacted him three times and any additional questions should be emailed.