The Lesotho Music Rights Association (LEMRA) is not happy with the government and the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) for not consulting them in their decision to bar entertainment activities in the current Alert Level Purple Covid-19 lockdown announced on Sunday by the Premier Dr Moeketsi Majoro.
On Sunday Majoro eased-down on lockdown provisions when he announced that the country was moving down a notch and increased economic activity, this he said was as a result of national improvement in the rate of pandemic prevalence and reduced numbers of deaths related to the pandemic in recent weeks.
Although a number of other industries such as domestic trade-retail grocery stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores’ trading hours were increased by two more hours, entertainers were still barred from practicing their trade. The Premier announced that they could not host live shows and music festivals but to opt to selling their music by parading their products in the streets touting people to buy through the use of speakers.
In an interview with Newsday Arts, LEMRA Spokesperson Ramosa Bosiu, said they were not happy with how NACOSEC and the government is treating them.
“We are not happy with the way NACOSEC does things, they do not consult with us about our field. This time around we were called to be told a day before the Prime Minister’s address that nothing was going to change for us as we are still not permitted to work,” Ramosa said.
“This left us with grim on our face because we had thought that we would have a say or at least be listened to but that was not the case” he protested.
He said the they were only told that their industry is still considered as a super-spreader.
“The explanation we got when we asked why we are not permitted to get back to work was that we fail to control our crowds at events because when people are drunk they just lose control of themselves.
“We are not saying or asking to be allowed to do as we please but just a portion of hosting events and live performances. All we say is to be allowed a certain number of people just like last year” he sobbed.
Last year in October when the country was moved from level orange to level purple, under the entertainment industry events were permitted both outdoors and indoors with private events allowed from 10am to 8pm and commercial events allowed from 10am to 11pm.
The events’ organizers were expected to have a permit from the Ministry of tourism, the venue be a legally registered entity, a maximum of 500 people in large places, bouncers be visible at such events and no alcohol be sold or consumed.
Bosiu said their recommendation to NACOSEC which was not given an ear, was for the secretariat itself to hire artists for raising awareness on Covid-19 throughout the country as he says not much education is being passed on to the most vulnerable although the country’s economic activity is being halted.
“Our pleas and recommendations have fallen on deaf ear as the NACOSEC has chosen to ignore us while failing to extend education to the most vulnerable members of society, that is what is frustrating because they in-turn are using money, which is from our taxes recklessly while we all suffer,” Bosiu said.
Meanwhile, event organisers and deejays said that for them things are actually worse off, as no consideration whatsoever has been extended their way with no one bothering to so much as tell them.
Speaking to this publication on behalf of the Djs Association of Lesotho, Paballo “Pablo Dj” Phakoa said there has never been any form of communication to them by NACOSEC since events were completely restricted.
“We have not heard anything from NACOSEC, not even to hear what our thoughts are on reopening or restriction of live performances and events. Also we were surprised to hear that the other associations were called in, clearly Djs don’t matter in this country,” Pablo DJ said angrily.
He said as artists, they also run registered companies in the country, pay taxes and employ some people who are also breadwinners for their families, through their work although some people feel they can just ignore and disregard them in their decisions.
For his part, NACOSEC Risk Communications Manager Baroane Phenethi told this publication that they had advised government against opening the entertainment industry as they saw it as a super-spreader.
He said event organizers are unable to control their clients when they have had too much to drink, and that itself poses a threat and risks increased numbers of infection.