Samas 'to consult further' before final decision on whether to cancel awards

25 October 2023 - 16:40
By Patience Bambalele AND Patience Bambalele
South African Music Awards
Image: Instagram/ Samas South African Music Awards

The South African Music Awards (Samas) say they will seek further consultation before taking final decision on whether to officially cancel or proceed with plans to stage the 29th instalment of the awards.

This after the KwaZulu-Natal government pulled the plug at the 11th hour on hosting the awards on November 17 and 18 at Durban ICC. On Wednesday morning, KZN department of economic development and environmental affairs (EDTEA) withdrew its three-year partnership as main sponsors of the Samas.

Samas organisers, Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA), are not officially cancelling the awards at this stage, but promised to advice the public on the next step once they have had further consultations.

“SA Music Awards (Sama) learnt with disappointment this morning of the 11th-hour decision by EDTEA in KwaZulu-Natal to withdraw from SAMA29. We have a three-year contract with EDTEA and will be consulting with our contractual partners, to find out what led to this decision and carve a way forward. As such, we will advise in due course what the next steps for SAMA29 will be,” said RiSA CEO Nhlanhla Sibisi,

“We note with dismay that a prestigious, credible and apolitical national cultural asset that has been in operation for 29 uninterrupted years has been characterised as a conduit for looting. This is an assertion that we as RiSA strongly rebuke. It is problematic that an institution of great importance to the pulse of our cultural economy has been violated for cheap politicking.

“The SAMA was going to directly create over 150 new job opportunities and over 100 musicians and practitioners would have performed across the SAMA29 programme which included the nominees announcement, regional and national activations, public viewing area, non-broadcast awards as well as the live broadcast show."

This morning, MEC for economic development and environmental affairs Siboniso Duma did not state a clear reason behind the cancellation, except the "cost-cutting measure". 

“After consulting widely, with executive council and other stakeholders, I have advised the department to stop the hosting of Sama awards this year. This was a collective decision. We reiterate the point that our hearts are with artists whose lives were destroyed during Covid-19 and Samas was their hope and source of income ahead of festive season,” said Duma.

“Our budget is always one of trade-offs, to finance one priority means another must be put aside, and that is a sad reality. Over the past few years KZN as a province lost over R14-billion due to cost-cutting, which was introduced by national government.

“The R28-million [KZN is alleged to have budgeted for the Samas] and other figures that are being thrown around are part of the campaign of disinformation that is aimed at confusing the people. The money confirmed by Treasury is R20-million before VAT [and] it is based on our last consultation.”