Sponsors speak out on Visible Talent payment drama

12 August 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Windhoek • [email protected]

Following media reports that some winners of the Visible Talent Namibia competition have not received their prize monies, MTC, one of the sponsors for season one, confirmed that the matter has been brought to their attention.
Speaking to Namibian Sun this afternoon, John Ekongo, MTC’s corporate affairs manager, said the organisers of the competition, which took place at the end of last year, explained that their plan was to pay artists with sponsorship money.
“However, due to the magnitude of the project, the organisers highlighted that the expenses overwhelmed them, particularly the event leading to the finale, as organisers had to cater to and make provision for over 200 participants from all over the country to converge in Windhoek where the main event was held,” Ekongo said.
The organisers then agreed with the winners to pay half of the prize money, while the remain balance was meant to be settled in the first quarter of 2020, he added.
"Regrettably, the Covid-19 situation happened and organisers were not able to source funds in the interim. However, organisers have asked for understanding and patience whilst they are still working around the clock to fulfil their commitment.
“It is not an ideal situation but all their efforts are geared towards fulfilling their part of the bargain,” Ekongo said.

Meanwhile, Anne Hambuda, who was entrusted to handle the project’s social media, told Namibian Sun that it was a very difficult working environment and that there was a lot of secrecy from the beginning. “We were kept out of a lot of things and when the money situation happened, we were told to just mind our businesses. I was surprised to find out that the winners haven’t been paid.
“We also weren’t paid, we had to sleep on the floor sometimes and in funny places,” she added.
When contacted for comment, competition founder Tate Buti said half of the prize money has been paid to the winners and he has proof of this.
“We agreed to settle the remaining balance this year but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has affected our streams of income as entertainers, I cannot say at this point when we will settle the remaining balance. But we are working on securing those funds," he said.
“As for the harsh living conditions while we were doing the road shows, I can’t recall anyone sleeping at a friend’s house as we paid accommodation for everyone."

Only a third received
Mervin Classen, the manager of Hozala’s Finest, the team that won the second prize, said Visible Talent Namibia has only paid one third of their prize money, but his team is still expecting the remaining balance to be settled.
“Hozala’s Finest was supposed to be given N$30 000, but we have so far only received N$10 000,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leena Shipwata, who was the competition host during the road shows, said at the beginning of the project, there were contracts, but not every team member signed these.
“While on the road, there were regions that we visited and some accommodation facilities were comfortable, whilst in other regions, accommodations were not pleasant.
“There were talks of team members getting paid when sponsors were secured and I cannot talk on behalf of others, but speaking for myself, I have not received a cent,” she said.

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