AMBITIOUS music promotions company Entertainment Republic has been hit by serious internal squabbling threatening to tear the stable apart over allegations of abuse of funds realised from the recently held Chimurenga music guru Thomas Mapfumo’s Welcome back Big Bira concert, NewsDay Life &Style has learnt.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
Sources privy to the developments said some corporate sponsors, who bankrolled the show, were now feeling short-changed after they failed to get their promised share of the spoils.
According to the sources, some members of the top executive, Max Mugaba and Tendai “Jones” Johannes, allegedly pocketed huge sums of money and were struggling to pay some of the service providers who made the concert a huge success.
“Things are not looking good at Entertainment Republic, they might try to put up brave faces, but all is not well. These guys are in trouble with many services providers whom they are yet to pay, as they continue playing the cat and mouse game with them,” one of the sources said.
“If they do not put their house in order to restore legacy, Entertainment Republic will be on the verge of collapse, as some key members have already started looking for other options, while it will be difficult to attract more sponsors in their future gigs having frustrated the chief sponsors of the concert.”
But Mugaba said service providers raising the allegations were not telling the truth, as most had failed to provide services equivalent to the amounts they had charged.
“The issue of non-payment of service providers is debatable, as we have some service providers who did not execute duties as agreed and these matters have a process one has to go through to address them and one of those channels is definitely not the Press,” he said.
“Whosoever is aggrieved that they did not get their dues should follow the proper channels and not falsely claim that huge sums where pocketed and we are living large. We had a life before the concert, no one was interested in this show until we chipped in. The fact that we managed to pull such a marquee event should be testimony to our capability of living such a life, as we did not punch beyond our weight.”
Arts consultant Patrick “Vijay” Hundu, who is allegedly owed more than
$5 000 in consultation fees for the concert, had his contract terminated after he demanded his dues.
Entertainment Republic officials confirmed on the company’s Twitter account this week that they had parted ways with Vijay.
“The board and management of Entertainment Republic would like to clarify that Patrick ‘Vijay’ Hundu is not an employee of Entertainment Republic.
He is a freelancer. Mr Hundu has no capacity representing Entertainment Republic in any contractual agreements,” the post read.
“Vijay went behind our backs and misrepresented facts which had serious implications on our standing with the organisation he approached, which we deal with. I also hope it puts paid the story that we are funded by Triplife,” Mugaba said.
“I hope VJ is also honourable to tell why he was not paid. He is bitter and lazy to follow proper channels and is trying to call us out, that is blackmail and it won’t work because we are focused on the bigger goal, which is to export talent and that goal has a slow and painful process, and we have accepted that.”
ijay refused to shed more light on the issue, but confirmed he was no longer part of Entertainment Republic.
“I am a freelancer, I don’t have any contract with any promoter and am free to pursue business with whoever wants to do business with me. That is all I can say about that issue,” he said.
Mugaba said despite the record attendance, they did not make much profit from the concert.
“We are not crying about it, as our business is a commercial venture and, as such, just like any other commercial venture, we have our setbacks and finance was and is still one of them. However, we managed to stage a world-class event by Zimbabwean standards to host a concert that will forever be etched in the minds and lives of Zimbabweans. For that, we are very proud.”