Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
THE recently appointed Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) chief executive officer (CEO) Reason “Rizzla” Sibanda says they are not promising heaven on earth to musicians as they are still developing the awards.
Sibanda who has worked in the South Africa music industry and promoted various artists there, took over the CEO post two years ago although he was only unveiled to the public this year.
In an interview this week, Rizzla said as CEO, he wanted to be honest with musicians and not promise things that he can not deliver.
“All we want is to be honest with musicians and not promise them heaven on earth. We’d rather have a situation that we tell nominees that we can’t fulfil one or two things and have everyone on the same page,” said Rizzla.
He said they want Zima to be credible so that they build on that for the next generations.
“We want to get the main awards ceremony right the first time and then we can add other things as we grow. That’s what’s important so that the awards are credible and they are about the musicians,” he said.
This, Rizzla said, was part of the vision they have to make the awards as prestigious as other awards on the continent and even the world.
“The vision of the Zimbabwe Music Awards is to raise the level to match or even surpass other awards around the region and continent. We’d like to match awards such as MTv, Nigerian Awards and some international music awards. That’s what we’re aiming to achieve,” he said.
“We want the awards to be so prestigious that musicians won’t give it a second thought to come and perform there and be part of it.”
Rizzla who has been supporting the Bulawayo Arts Awards since their inception through his Boom City company, revealed that he has been CEO of Zima for the past two years and has been doing groundwork all along.
“I’ve been the CEO for two years and since I came on board, I did a bit of auditing and consulting of the Zima properties. I looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the awards and the debt of Cde Chinx’s house. We couldn’t hold a ceremony or event without us clearing that debt.
“We worked tirelessly but it was tough and we brought other partners in to help with Cde Chinx’s house. And thank God we gave him the house before he died.”
Part of laying the foundation according to Rizzla, has been to set up offices and have staff that would run Zima during the year.
“The next thing was for us to put in place a team that would run the awards. We want to bring in people who have relevant skills such as Saimon Mambazo who worked with me during the Bulawayo Arts Awards. His technical and production skills for me are second to none in the country.
“We also have Benji from Jive Zimbabwe and Nancy Ziyambi who’s in charge of administration. We want Zima to be a business and it needed a home. We now have offices at 10 Causeway Road in Harare where there are members of staff working there on a daily basis. This is Zima the institution not the event. If the institution is stronger, then the event will be strong too,” said Rizzla.
One of the sticky issues during the previous Zima ceremonies was that winners walked away without gongs as only four gongs were used for presentations.
Rizzla said this is a thing of the past as all the 32 winners on the night will walk away with gongs next year.
“Right now, the gongs are there, that was the first thing that we sorted out. We realised that we can’t have a situation where people exchange four gongs during the ceremony.We secured 32 gongs for all categories.
“The prize money, we have to be honest, there’s no partner that has come on board so far and we’re still negotiating with partners. Besides the gongs, those nominated will get certificates.”
On judging, the CEO said they will introduce an electronic system so that there is no collusion during the adjudication process.
“We’re introducing an electronic judging system so that no one knows who’s judging what to eliminate the aspect of collusion. We have also approached people who are specialists in the music genres so that the adjudication process is fair,” Rizzla said.
He said he learnt this when he judged the South African Music Awards years ago.
“I’ve judged the South African Music Awards and judges only know each other at the after party.
I met judges from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. We didn’t know each other, before,” he said. Rizzla said artistes should know that Zima is looking at the full package when artistes are being judged.
“When judging they’ll be looking at the music and its popularity. In the world that we’re living in, someone can make a hit out of nothing. It’s not about albums as the strategy that people are using these days is releasing singles. That’s why when submitting, one can submit between two to five songs.”
Rizzla said everything is set for the January 25 ceremony in Harare and urged musicians to keep on submitting their works for nominations. Nominations opened on November 11 and close on December 31.