Promoters decry heavy taxation on global shows
Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
Local promoters have decried heavy taxation when hosting international artistes, a development that has seen a few foreign artistes performing in the country.
Promoters are required to pay huge sums of money to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), the Immigration Department and the Censorship Board.
Most of the payments are demanded in foreign currency.
The multiple taxation has seen promoters and musicians alike, turning to social media to vent their frustration.
Intwasa Festival director Raisedon Baya said he parted ways with US$2 000 to bring two South African comedians to this year’s festival. Musician Dereck Mpofu claims to have been left with a staggering US$15 000 debt after hosting international performers, and only settled the bill over two years.
Plot Mhako, who hosts two dance festivals and numerous shows featuring international acts, said the fees were too high.
“It’s too costly to bring a foreign artiste into Zimbabwe either for a concert, project or exchange; (we) are prohibitively overtaxed,” he said.
“The money paid by promoters and hosts is too much as compared to other countries in the region or even internationally.
“Zimbabwe needs to open the creative and cultural space for business, exchange and growth. However this cannot happen when we have such costly, unnecessary bureaucracy. The process breeds corruption and stifles growth.”
A promoter who preferred anonymity said for one to get an artiste into Zimbabwe, they first have to register as a promoter; regardless of whether one was an artiste or not.
“When bringing in the artiste, you first have to get a letter from the NACZ that you take to Zimra,” he said. “At Zimra, you get a tax clearance. Once you get cleared, you go back to the NACZ where you then have to present your full budget for the show.
“You are presented with a letter to take back to Zimra where you then pay withholding tax for the total budget, including the hire of a venue, accommodation or even the security.”
The promoter said upon paying Zimra, one was required to go back to NACZ where they pay a large percentage of their total budget.
“For me it was almost 50 percent,” he said. “From there, you pay the Immigration Office and last time it was US$500 per person entering the country, meaning that for a band of five people you pay US$2 500.
“You then pay the Censorship Board.”
The same huge taxes also apply when one wants to shoot a music video with an international artiste. This has led many musicians to shoot music videos in foreign lands when they collaborate with international artistes.
The losses have in the past affected promoters after failing to recover their money.
Seasoned musician-cum promoter, Prince Tendai Mparutsa, is reported to have worsened his pre-existing motor neuron condition after going bankrupt after promoting the mega show that featured Akon and Sean Paul in September 2010.
Blessing Jeke was once admitted at a local hospital, amid reports of failing to come to terms with a flopped gig.