Musos gatvol of radio corruption

AIRTIME ANGER: Mzwakhe Mbuli. 15/06/07. Sowetan.

People's poet risks jail for possible parole violation. Pic. Mohau Mofokeng. 28/05/2006. © Sowetan.
AIRTIME ANGER: Mzwakhe Mbuli. 15/06/07. Sowetan. People's poet risks jail for possible parole violation. Pic. Mohau Mofokeng. 28/05/2006. © Sowetan.

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Leading South African musicians are tired of radio DJs and compilers who allegedly demand payola to give their CDs airtime.

This week when the musicians heard that Sowetan was writing about the alleged corrupt practices, we were bombarded by musicians coming out strongly on the issue.

And the message was clear: Musicians are gatvol of corrupt compilers and radio DJs, and have now vowed to expose them.

Mzwakhe Mbuli, the people's poet, fingers SABC radio stations Metro FM, Ukhozi FM and Umhlobo Wenene as the worst culprits, and called for the Scorpions to intervene.

"The SABC has new management under Dali Mpofu and quite honestly, management has an open-door policy when dealing with musicians.

"But radio compilers are still a law unto themselves," he said.

Mbuli reserves his sharpest volleys for Metro FM, the leading national urban radio station.

"'Radio Metro FM's management is untouchable and has been anti-Mzwakhe for years. Under apartheid I was the enemy of the state. I fought for the liberation of this country, including freeing the airwaves. Why the vendetta and blatant prejudice?" he said.

"It is very difficult to prove the corrupt practices because these guys do it in dark corners, usually in hotels, and money, hard cash, exchanges hands. The police must do their job. Maybe we should use close circuit television cameras like in Special Assignment. I am not prepared to bribe or pay; instead I am prepared to expose them."

But Mbuli is not the only one ready to open up.

Eugene Mthethwa, of Trompies, who is also a arts activist, said: "This is a serious issue and some of us are prepared to come up with evidence. When we came into the industry we found it already entrenched.

"There is a need for a truth and reconciliation commission of the entertainment industry so that like in politics we can start all over from a clean slate," he said.

Muso and producer Sello "Chicco" Twala said: "This has been going on for too long and is really annoying.

"There are some people who treat the SABC like it is their personal company. When one song plays on a station 20 times a day, it really means that there is some money exchanging hands.

"A group of us has instituted our own investigation and will expose these people sooner rather than later."

The industry has for years spoken with a forked tongue, with musicians and recording companies suppressing their opinion.

"Those people who are afraid to speak out are the ones who have paid. They know that they cannot talk," Chicco said.

"What we want is to take full control of our music by insisting that we become part of the panel that selects music, or we withdraw our music from the public broadcaster altogether."

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said: "We take these allegations seriously and encourage artists who have evidence that our compilers are receiving payola to bring it to the SABC. The matter will be dealt with internally.

"The SABC is serious about rooting out corruption and we are open to discussions with the music industry."