The four-year fall-out between Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) and one of the country’s biggest music shows, Born and Raised (BNR) dials up another level this Thursday.
The dispute dates back to the Covid days of late 2020, when BTC cancelled their contract with BNR, pulling out of their P250, 000 sponsorship agreement just seven days before the event was due to take place.
The corporation must now show High Court why they took such action after Judge Zein Kebonang ruled they have a case to answer on Wednesday.
If their explanation fails to satisfy the court, it could cost them P2.8 million, the amount BNR are demanding in damages.
It marks a sad decline in a relationship that began with much promise, with BTC pledging half-a-million Pula to the Serowe-based music festival in a two-year deal to sponsor the 2019 and 2020 editions.
Having successfully held the first fest, all was going according to plan until the break-out of Covid-19, which changed everything.
Desperate to contain the deadly virus, government enforced a number of restrictions, including limiting gatherings to 50 people.
Seeking new ways to hold the festival, BNR proposed hosting a virtual event.
According to their representative, Njiramanda Mbewe, on 24 November 2020, BTC sent an email confirming the show should go on virtually.
Following the positive response, Mbewe says her clients went ahead to book artists and paid deposits to other service providers.
Weeks later, BTC seemingly had a change of heart.
“They [BNR] started preparations for the show only to receive an email on the 15th of December being told that due to Covid outbreak, they [BTC] are unable to sponsor the event. That was a serious inconvenience as the preparations were at an advanced stage and cancelling the show came at a cost. What made them change their mind after they agreed to continue with the deal?” enquired Mbewe.
Unable to reach an agreement, two days before the concert was scheduled to take place, BNR pulled the plug and cancelled the show.
In their defence, the BTC lawyer, Tefo Gaongalelwe told court that upon consideration of the drafted proposal and after several meetings, BNR were requested to provide a comprehensive report to justify the disbursement of funds.
“The draft proposal they made did not capture the essence of the agreement as they did not meet their obligation as contained in the agreement and there was no return on investment. Part of the agreement was that they give us 300 standard tickets and 50 VIP tickets but that was not going to happen if the show was going to be virtual,” argued Gaongalelwe.
His argument failed to convince Judge Kebonang; BTC will not have to wait long to try again!