By Kennedy Nyavaya
Fans, artistes and promoters were left searching for concealed answers after local authorities reportedly ordered a last-minute cancellation of a Friday night gig where musical giants Winky D and Jah Prayzah were billed to perform live at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC), Standard Style has learned.
The show — themed Best of Both Worlds — had been scheduled for livestream on the Gateway Stream Pay-Per-View (PPV) platform while a maximum of 100 VIP guests would have physically attended so as to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
However, the police reportedly stormed the venue at the 11th hour before pulling the plug on the entire event.
Efforts to get comment from show promoters Kayse Connect did not yield much yesterday as they promised to release a comprehensive press statement over the incident, but had not done so at the time of going to print.
“We regret to advise that despite our efforts it has become impossible to proceed with the Jah Prayzah and Winky D Best of Both Worlds pay per view event as initially scheduled. We will update you on further details soon. We sincerely apologise,” wrote Kayse on their social media platforms.
But, by yesterday afternoon fans would not have any of it as they were still in the dark about what happened for the show to fail as well as why they were not getting enough information around the issue.
“I had purchased my ticket a week before and I also bought econet data bundles for the event so I was very disappointed when I realised that the show had been cancelled via Facebook. Now I don’t know if they are going to refund or what, at least they should communicate with us via email as they did when they sent reminders,” said one Shadreck Chitenga, a disgruntled music fan.
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It is not clear why the virtual part of the show was stopped, but has been as unfair on the organisers who have lost a huge investment in planning expenses as well as the refunds they may have to do.
The enforcement of health protocols is of paramount importance, but of late, local restrictions have been selectively used as reason to block or grant permission for different events in the country.
While the music gig was cancelled, dozens of people, including high-ranking government officials, could be seen attending what was dubbed a launch of the national dress yesterday prompting respected promoter as well blogger Plot Mhako to brand the supposed enforcement of law on Friday night as a scam.
“The promoter took a risk, invested big, created many jobs, was attempting to open a new digital avenue for the creative industries. To wait for the 11th hour to stop the event is a wicked act. Enemies of progress,” wrote Mhako.
“What stinks is the selective application of the laws/regulations, a heavy-handed and punitive approach towards progressive efforts. There is no sincerity in much of the ‘development’ talk from officials. Sad for days.”
As the world grapples with the effects of the global pandemic, Gateway Stream music application that had partnered Kayse for the livestream has been seen as a worthy lifeline for artistes.
Last Sunday, they successfully hosted gospel songbird Janet Manyowa at the HICC with over 400 people watching online through PPV.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment yesterdaya as he was said to be out of the office.
This is not the first time police have disrupted an arts show. Recently the law enforcement agents stormed the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards and stopped the event for violating Covid-19 regulations.
It is uncertain whether the police will continue with the disjointed approach in their application of the law, but what has become apparent is that if they do, the creative industry will suffer a huge blow to their already compromised finances.