Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
IT is alleged that models who served as ushers during the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards were paid RTGS$10 and were not given meals after spending nearly 12 hours at the venue on the day.
The 37 models who were a mixture of Open Eye Studio, Fingers Modelling Academy and freelancers were responsible for ushering people onto the stage, as well as guests on the VIP, VVIP and general seating areas throughout the event.
Posting on Facebook, one Pardon Khanye who deals with models alleged that models went home with RTGS$10 as payment after a long night.
“I hear models were told to report at the ZITF at 3PM and were there up to midnight or should I just say the next day. They worked and did not get food, only to be given 10 bond after the show to go get food. . . .These kids have been waiting for their pay from last week of which they don’t even know how much they are getting.
“So to whoever who is meant to pay these kids, please understand that these kids have parents and homes, let alone when a model goes out to work, they expect to be paid. May you kindly pay them or at least update on when they are getting paid,” read Pardon’s post.
After reading the post, many bemoaned what they deemed as exploitation of models.
Commenting on the fiasco, one of the RoilBAA organisers Raisedon Baya said they had not received any complaint.
“It’s difficult to respond to sentiments on social media. We haven’t received any complaint from models or their representatives,” said Baya.
Open Eye Studio founder Samantha Tshuma, who was a presenter at the awards, said her assistant Joanne Peters was the one in charge of the models’ welfare on the night as she was occupied.
Contacted for comment, Peters explained why the models were given RTGS$10 and were not fed at the end of the night.
“With regards to the 10 Bond for food, it was because there was confusion with the catering team. So at the end of the night, they hadn’t eaten and it was decided that we be given 10 Bond to help with that,” said Peters.
On the payment of the models, she said there was no clear message that they would be paid for ushering.
“There was a message that circulated that there were models needed for ushering for the BAAs and there were incentives for them. However, it wasn’t clear what the incentives were,” said Peters.
Apart from the models, artistes who performed on the day, save for the main band and the arts ensemble, were also not paid for their performances.
However, according to some of the artistes, they agreed to perform for free as they signed contracts that stated they were performing for free.
One of the performers, rapper Cal Vin said he was told by organisers that there was no money to pay artistes who would perform.
“I was approached to perform the song of the year on stage. They told me that there was no money to pay us and I agreed because I saw it as an opportunity to show people that I’m still in the game,” said Cal Vin.
House songbird Novuyo Seagirl, who walked away with two awards, said she also signed a similar contract.
“They were honest with me and said there was no money to pay us to perform. However, I signed the contract knowing fully well that I wasn’t going to be paid and I was happy with it,” said Novuyo.
Baya said the reasoning behind the contracts was that it was going to be impossible to pay all the artistes who numbered over 200.
“If you’re a nominee for example in Song of the Year, Hip Hop and the like, we don’t pay for those. The idea is that they are part and parcel of the celebration. Those are people we are celebrating but the ensemble for example, is those who we give a token.
“The idea is to use nominees, but alone they won’t be enough to perform the whole night. So to call people who aren’t nominated to just perform for free isn’t fair on their part. So the ensemble and the band, those who weren’t nominated were paid tokens of appreciation,” said Baya.