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HOPE FOR ADJUSTMENT OF GIGS RESTRICTIONS - ZULU D

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MBABANE - “We had hope that the Prime Minister(pm) will adjust gigs/nightclub restrictions.”

This comes after Megasound (one of Eswatini’s leading entertainment stable) launched this year’s installment of the Megasound Picnic set to take place at Sibebe Resort in October. It is worth noting that this year’s event will be a three day event. Megasound co-founder Samkelo ‘Zulu D’ Zulu said they were hoping that the PM would ease nightclub/gigs restrictions as the country seems to be responding well to the vaccination drive. The adjustment to level risk 2 of the COVID-19 regulations by government announced by the pm, Cleopas Sipho Dlamini on Thursday has caused melancholy to the entertainment industry. This comes after event organisers revealed that they had hoped that by now, the industry would open up because of the decline of COVID-19 cases and the vaccination movement currently taking place in the country. The COVID-19 vaccine has thus far proven to be an effective measure to control the spread and the ugly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has spared no one, including the entertainment sector.

Businesses

Most businesses were placed on restrictions which led to a significant number of them being closed down and together with decent jobs under threat. In Eswatini, the hospitality, sports and entertainment industries have been placed on a protracted restriction leading to heavy losses which cannot be sustained into the future. This phenomenon has caused a lot of anguish for the players of the industry and it is very alarming as most artists have been without an income for close to two years.  “We note the ENCAC application that is a requirement. We must have enough time to alert our fans of the expectations and also urge them to vaccinate for Covid-19, so they come fully prepared to enjoy the picnic,” Zulu said. “We are glad we were finally able to vaccinate as the Megasound crew and so far there has not been anyone who had side effects, but our systems responded well during inoculation,” he said.  He went on to urge other artists and the general public at large to vaccinate in order for the arts industry to open once more.

“Vaccinating is pretty simple and easy. The process was smooth and I would like to urge everyone to vaccinate in order for our industry to open once more as a lot has occurred in the past few months,” he said. Zulu D went on to add that he had planned on opening the Mega Lounge in Sidwashini, Mbabane as of next week and urged fun lovers to vaccinate in order for them to be able to gain entry. Step Up Entertainment co-founder and reigning Swazi Boy Social Media Awards DJ of the year, DJ Bloss, also echoed Zulu’s statement as he also was vaccinated on the same day. “People should not pay attention to the conspiracy theories circulating all over social media. The process was very easy and I think the more people are vaccinated is the closer we will get to realising our wishes in opening up the industry and earning an income, but most importantly doing what we love,” he said.

Other artists that were vaccinated include DJ Matamza, Smish, Sgitha and Percy. Since its inception, the picnic has been hosted at Malkerns Country Club. The award-winning DJ revealed that they decided to host the show at Sibebe resort because they wanted an open place with accommodation and still adhere to social distancing.

Environment

Zulu stated that there would be a limited number of tickets.  The nature of a picnic encourages friends, families, couples and everyone to enjoy time together in an environment that is safe and friendly. “What a better way to do that overlooking the infinity pool at Sibebe Resort with live music in the background. This year’s edition is not just about entertainment, but it will also be about encouraging local tourism in helping funlovers find more interesting experiences across the country.  “We will do this with the restrictions we are currently under. We promise that people will have a good time putting their health first by following all Covid-19 precautions should government consider reopening the industry before October,” said  Zulu d. The Megasound Picnic is credited for hosting a number of local and international acts. In a few years, it became one of the country’s most loved events. It is worth noting that Scores of emaSwati who have since vaccinated have been calling on government to ease the restrictions on gatherings.

This is particularly event organisers, artists and other members of the public who have business and pleasure interests in the arts sector. Some have even come to the extent of wanting to replicate what other countries have done in terms of access to entertainment hot spots and other venues by only allowing people that have been inoculated with the jab to events. Currently, thousands of emaSwati have been vaccinated and this exercise is still ongoing. However, it is an individual’s right to not want to vaccinate. In an interview with this reporter, Eswatini Events Managers and Promoters Association (EEMPA) Chairperson Mthunzi ‘Shadow’ Zwane said in as much as it was not mandatory for everyone to vaccinate, he urged people to do so.
“I would like to urge people to vaccinate, especially those who are directly or indirectly affiliated with the arts sector, be it barmen, waiters, comedians, DJ’s, bouncers, security and musicians to vaccinate so that we can be able to convince government to let us work once more,” he said.

Zwane went on to mention that it was proving to be a cumbersome exercise in most artists’ livelihoods to make an income amid the current restrictions. Also asked to shed light on the matter was event’s organiser and DJ Karly B, who said he had since lost interest in discussing matters relating to the arts sector’s plight towards government. Mamba said, “I have honestly lost interest in discussing issues around the relaxation of restrictions in the industry since past experience has shown that the decision makers care less no matter what possibilities we present, our government just has total disregard of arts and the well-being of those involved in it.

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