The Deejays Association of Lesotho (DJALE) supported by the Lesotho Music Rights Association (LEMRA) have come out guns blazzing and fuming with anger at parliamentarian and former foreign Affairs deputy minister Halebonoe Setšabi whom they said mocked them during a National Assembly sitting of Tuesday March 16, 2021.
This after the 281 artists and Djs were handed food parcels which consisted of 5kg beans and 12.5kg of maize meal on Monday by the government.
Artists and Djs totaling 469 in the country have been identified to receive the aid from government having been badly affected by the effects of Covid-19 that led to the entertainment industry being restricted to curb the spread of the virus for almost a year.
The member of parliament for Malimong, Leshoboro Mohlajoa was seen in a video of the parliament proceedings asking for the house to do something urgently about the situation of artists in the country when Setšabi cut in making a comment interepreted as ‘sarcastic’ by the entertainers.
“They were given the beans, it’s just that there was no cooking oil, salt or aromat as well as fuel,” he had said.
The incident was not well received, especially by the Djs although the MP apologised on a local radio on Wednesday, where he said he was not being petty or sarcastic towards the artists.
“I was not being sarcastic or making a mockery of the gesture, in fact I was supporting my fellow MP who was saying something needs to be done to meet the artists halfway. If it came out as me being petty, I apologise unreservedly,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, responding to the parliamentarian’s remarks, especially the apology, Djs’ representative Bafokeng Dj Bootz Ramoseeli did not mince his words as he expressed their disgust at the legislator’s actions.
“We are not going to accept his apology, he knew exactly what he was doing and for that we cannot and will not accept his apology, he can keep it,” Ramoseeli said.
The food parcels were delivered by the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane who said the gesture was merely a means to fulfil a promise his ministry had made to the Djs and musicians.
“I made a commitment that while everything is on and off I will try to see what can be done to meet our artists halfway hence this gesture,” Rakuoane said.
“We know that this is not enough considering the bad effects felt across the country and the world in the entertainment industry and other sectors of life, more especially to our artists,” he said.
The minister said he had met the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSE) about the possibility re-opening the entertainment industry.
“Apart from meeting with the NACOSEC, the matter is already being extensively discussed by the ministerial committee and I will be updating on the outcome,” he said.
While the Djs and musicians went ahead and accepted the beans and maize meal, most said they were not asking for handouts from the government but what they want is to work.
“Yes we accepted the food parcels, although that is not what we want right now. We want to be allowed to get back to work, the truth is some of our members do need the food as they can go a long way during this time but most of us really don’t need the parcels,” Ramoseeli said.
“What we will do is to organise to donate them to the most vulnerable people of our communities whom we believe actually need the food parcels more.
“We have only one request and that is for us to be allowed to get back to work, currently we are just waiting for NACOSEC to get back to us and we understand that will be any time this week” he said.
On the other hand, Public Relations Officer of Lesotho Music Rights association, Ramosa Bosiu also said that all they want is for NACOSEC to open up the industry so artists can make a living like they have always done.
“We are tired of empty promises, all we are asking is to be allowed to work for ourselves and our families. We are grateful for the food but we want to get back to doing our work,” Bosiu said.