On Wednesday night a circular savingram no 3 of 2017 Ref: OPS 4/26/5 II (101) dated 5th September 2017 titled: Holding Of Music Festivals At Stadia And Associated Public Places, authored by the Permanent Secretary to the President made rounds and went viral on social media.
The Savingram basically bans all Music Festivals at the stadia and other public places in the country. It calls on all local authorities to desist from issuing any permits for such activities in public places. “The recent incident where one young person lost her life and many other attendants lost their property during the music festival at the National Stadium on Saturday 02nd September is regrettable,” reads the directive in part. The directive continues to say the decision affects both planned and future events. “The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and that of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development are directed to ensure that these measures are implemented without fail.”
In response to the Savingram through the facebook platform, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng wrote, "It is my responsibility to promote, grow and protect entertainment industry in this country. We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property etc, will be dealt with. I'm on this issue. Give me time." Minister Olopeng also promised to hold a press conference on Monday to address the issue. Ever since he took office Olopeng has been hailed by the entertainment industry practitioners for his contribution to the arts, a seemingly deserted industry but with a lot of potential.
On many occasions the Minister has engaged with artists, fashion designers and beauty queens on issues that he deems important in taking their industry forward. This move has since seen the Miss Botswana Beauty pageant being transferred to his Ministry for better coordination and staging. In one of his engagements with industry experts, Olopeng called on artists to form the Arts Council where all their grievances can be heard and addressed accordingly. This initiative is still on the pipeline and was welcomed by artists.
Directly addressing the Savingram issue, Olopeng further said, “I'm aware of the correspondence from the Office of the President with regard to what happened at the National Stadium during the recent music festival. We all condemn what happened there”. The Savingram decision comes after an unfortunate incident that happened at the National Stadium over the past weekend. A young woman, Nametso Bogopa, who was a third year student at the University of Botswana died following a stampede at one of the gates leading into the stadium as patrons were negotiating their way into venue for the fourth installment of the Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) on Saturday night.
An incident as narrated by the event organizer Fish Pabalinga happened after tickets were sold out, about eleven thousand tickets that were printed finished and people still forced their way through. In the process they broke down one of the gates, a group of atleast seven thousand people force their way in causing a stampede that led to the death of the young Bogopa.