Idols SA judge and renowned choreographer Somizi Mhlongo was caught in the middle of the debate over his latest choreography gig.
Somizi reportedly scooped a half-a-million pula deal to spice up Botswana’s golden jubilee celebrations. The event scheduled to hold in September at the capital, Gaborone, attracted a budget of 100million pula (about R130-million).
A committee named Botswana50 (Bot50) was appointed to oversee the celebrations. However, the committee has stirred a lot of controversy amid accusations of corruption and favouritism. Bot50 is allegedly biased in the award of tenders linked to the celebrations.
Thus, Botswana’s anti-corruption unit, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), has been called on to investigate the tenders.
Also, it has been confirmed that Somizi was not contracted by Bot50, but by Red Pepper PR and Consultancy agency. The agency won the P14-million tender to procure the dance and theatre productions for the celebrations. According to a statement by Bot50 coordinator Charity Kgotlafela, the tenders were awarded to local companies like they promised.
Nevertheless, the country’s residents refused to accept that Somizi’s P500,000 gig is simply because he’s good at what he does.
Batswana dancers and choreographers have complained about giving a South African the gig.
One of Botswana’s top choreographers complained:
“I don’t doubt Somizi’s capabilities and talent, but when we’re told this is time to celebrate us, as Batswana, then why hire a South African for the job? We can do it too.”
“Bot50 promised they would hire only locals, why were we overlooked this time around?” asked another.
“Could a Motswana have been paid that much for the same job? That is my question.” coming from a pissed off local.
Apparently, choreographer Somizi Mhlongo has done other gigs during some major events in Botswana. A good example is the opening ceremony of the Africa Youth Games in May 2014.
However, a lot of the performers from Botswana think that since they are the ones being celebrated, they should be 100% involved in the events.
Though Somizi was not available to speak for himself, his Instagram status showed his feelings about the event.
He posted: “… this brings so much joy to my soul. Spreading and sharing my talent with the continent. Botswana has talent. Day 1 dance workshop for #bot50.”
Bot50 maintained that they don’t have any influence over the tenders given to the local companies as long as they deliver. Choreographer Somizi Mhlongo remains one of Mzansi’s best.