Seven Zimbabwean musicians are stranded in the United Kingdom after their promoters allegedly bolted on them without paying performance fees or even paying for the return flights to Zimbabwe, Nehanda Radio has reported.
What started as an exciting tour for Ras Caleb, Don Gaga, Lipsy, Diana Samkange, Drum Dada, Hollipah D and Progress Chipfumo is slowly turning into a nightmare. Their visas are expiring on Thursday and yet the promoters have not paid for the return flights.
On the way to UK the issue of the one-way tickets was raised by South African immigration but the promoters claimed the return tickets were with another airline (Ethiopian Airlines).
Shelton Sitima who runs Afrodayz Productionz teamed up with Lady Bimma for what was dubbed the ‘The One Nation, One People’ tour. But on Monday night Caleb, Gaga and Chipfumo were knocking on Sitima’s door at his home in Sheffield demanding their money.
Sitima appeared to have bolted and only his wife was visible through the windows as she opened the curtains. Ras Caleb’s visa has already expired and efforts were being made to have it extended. We understand his ticket has since been sorted by third parties but he has not been paid for his performances by the promoters.
There appears to have been a separate arrangement for Diana Samkange and by Monday night her camp was not complaining. But a few days ago Samkange’s ticket was cancelled for unexplained reasons. Its not clear if the promoters have booked another flight.
Nehanda Radio has been told Progress Chipfumo, Ras Caleb and Don Gaga risk going home without payment and having over-stayed their visas, something that would harm future chances of coming back. Ras Caleb for example was supposed to have gone back to Zimbabwe on the 7th of January and the fiasco is threatening to ruin his career.
We could not get independent verification of Lipsy’s situation, but our sources insist she is in a similar situation and needs to leave the UK by Thursday.
“I have been in the UK for more than two weeks and have not been paid for my labour. Meanwhile my bills and commitments back home in Zimbabwe need to be paid for. I have just wasted two weeks of my time here,” one of the disgruntled artists told Nehanda Radio.
Several other people were given UK visas under the auspices of the tour including Philemon Dhangwa and Clifford Mawere. Its not known what they do.
Efforts to get comment from the promoter proved fruitless as his phone continually went to voicemail. We understand from another source that the promoter is claiming that some of the shows were cancelled and all he has is a contractual dispute with the artists.
The matter is threatening to explode further with threats by one of the sponsors who made the tour possible threatening to report the promoters to the UK Home Office and the Sheffield Council who funded the Afrofest event.