Whose Mzansi is it?

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Rise Mzansi is a beautiful phrase that encourages South Africans to rise up and become winners in whatever they do.

However, it is now at the centre of a bruising row between the producers of an SABC TV business competition and a youth empowerment organisation.

Arguing that the name belongs to them, Rise Mzansi, the organi- sation, accuses the producers of the SABC TV show RiZe Mzansi of having stolen their name.

"We are a youth empowerment organisation that was registered in 2005 with the Department of Trade and Industry. We have been facilitating the smooth entry of the youth into business until the TV show with the same title as our name, RiZe Mzansi, came into the picture a month ago.

"All hell has broken loose as a lot of people, including clients and sponsors, are questioning whether we are one and the same thing," said Thabo Moeketsi of the Auckland Park-based organisation.

At stake in the TV competition is R1million which, like in Rise Mzansi, the organisation, will give the winning team of young business people entry into business.

"We have held meetings with Talent Attack, the producers of the TV show to resolve the problem. At each meeting they keep referring us to the SABC. We want them to stop using our name because the show is confusing our clients and our sponsors," says Moeketsi.

The SABC, however, has brushed aside the allegations, saying the business show emanates from SABC1's slogan, Mzansi Fo Sho.

"It is public knowledge that the channel's payoff line is Mzansi Fo Sho, which loosely translates to 'yes Mzansi or Mzansi for real'," said Simphiwe Mthembu, SABC1 publicity and media relations manager.

He said the programme, RiZe Mzansi, is directly derived from the fact that the channel has claimed the position of being the authentic teller of Mzansi stories.

"The title, therefore, fits perfectly with the fact that the programme looks at the challenge this country faces of a lack of active youth entrepreneurs, hence the call by SABC1 - Mzansi Fo Sho to the youth of Mzansi to RiZe.

"This is further amplified by the font-styling in the usage of the word 'RiZe', which depicts the act of rising.

The series was commissioned with the added intention of educating budding entrepreneurs about the trials that small businesses face, and to assess whether contestants have the necessary tools to survive in the world of business.

"The channel takes pride in the fact that the programme has helped conscientise the youth about the different avenues of economic empowerment."