By Kennedy Nyavaya
Organisers of the Zimbabwe Music Awards’ (Zima) return edition will have to work overtime to persuade an unconvinced audience that their nominees list, released on Wednesday, and eventually the winners — at a ceremony slated for January 25 — are indeed a legit representation of the music scene last year.
The list, littered with newbies, has come under severe scrutiny since announcement at a press conference in the capital, with a significant number of musicians and fans questioning the nomination criterion.
“We were dealing with whatever entries would have been winkled down. We could not adjudge someone who had not entered,” explained one of the judges, Robert Mukondiwa.
This has raised questions on whether the artistes with bigger clout consciously snubbed the awards, lacked good content last year or they were simply not impressive in the eyes of the judges.
Zima CEO Reason Sibanda defended his pool of judges that produced 160 nominees from the reported over 1 000 entries in an “airtight online process”.
“The judges applied their minds, if it means they [artistes] submitted and did not get selected, tough luck, I am sure the next year is still available to submit again, but we do not follow emotions, we follow the system,” said Sibanda.
According to Sibanda, the team of adjudicators to be unveiled on the day of the ceremony was drawn from various sectors including academia as well as broadcast and print media among others across the country.
But, it remains to be seen if Zima’s credibility will not be harmed by the contention surrounding the nominations particularly in the categories including:
Best Male Artiste of the Year, Best Album of the Year, Best Zimdancehall, Best Sungura and Producer of the Year.
Meanwhile, it appears Zima organisers struggled to attract enough sponsorship to secure the much-sought prize money.
Only one corporate, Cash Box, has partnered the organisers for the Song of the Year category adding to PPC the ultimate sponsor of the event.
This means that other winners on the night are likely set to go back with gongs only.
“I will be honest with you, unless someone comes in and offers prize money, there is nothing we can do,” said Sibanda.
“We can only tell you the truth, but we are hopeful. The following year my quest is that there must be prize money.”
This is yet another dent for the awards following artistes’ appeal for financial value to accompany the accolades when their return was announced late last year.
With the dispute hovering over the nominees list and the absence of prize money, it remains to be seen if Zima’s highly advertised super comeback will derive anymore interest from extremely demanding music stakeholders going forward.