Major media sponsors join Toyota in pulling out of Afrikaans is Groot
Another major sponsor has withdrawn from the Afrikaans is Groot music concert amidst backlash over the event's inclusion of controversial singer Steve Hofmeyr on its lineup.
Media24 announced on Tuesday evening that all its titles previously associated with the festival, including Beeld, Huisgenoot, VIA, and Netwerk24, will no longer continue their involvement.
"Our titles continue to be at the forefront of news coverage when it comes to Afrikaans music, artists, and a variety of other projects – including AIG. We'll also continue our coverage and support of creative Afrikaans creators of festivals and projects like KKNK, Aardklop, Innibos, Stellenbosch Woordfees, and Optog," the company said in a statement.
The decision came just hours after Toyota SA confirmed that it had ended its partnership with the show.
In a statement, Toyota mentioned that it would instead be involving itself in "creative and musical events that promote diversity and social cohesion in the country".
"Toyota South Africa Motors and the organisers of Afrikaans is Groot (AIG) have amicably agreed to discontinue their sponsorship association as of March 2019 – which also marked the end of the 2018 AIG season.
“Both parties have honoured their contractual agreements since 2015. The partnership was mutually beneficial to both parties,” the company said.
It added that it was "fully committed" to developing arts and culture in the country.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has been one of the most prominent voices in calls for sponsors like Coca-Cola, DStv, Toyota and MTN to boycott Steve's shows after a tweet from the musician in 2014 resurfaced on social media earlier this month. In the tweet, Steve claimed black people were the "architects of apartheid".
Following public calls, MTN, Coca-Cola and Toyota all distanced themselves from the muso and the event, while Emerald Resort and Casino in the Vaal cancelled its concert featuring the musician.
MTN announced they had withdrawn their sponsorship from the event and said it was not in line with their objective of trying to "connect South Africans and bring people together".
Afriforum challenged MTN over the decision and questioned the organisation's standing on the "personal views of artists performing at the music festival".
Coca-Cola told TshisaLIVE it was approached to partner with Afrikaans Is Groot but declined. It distanced itself from the event and said it had enquired as to why it was advertised as a sponsor. Its logo has since been removed.
On Tuesday, Afrikaans is Groot organisers announced that it would turn to its supporters for financial assistance.
In collaboration with Solidarity Helping Hand, organisers announced a #JouAIG campaign where the public will be the "main sponsor".
They also confirmed that that there are no plans to cut Hofmeyr from the lineup, despite the backlash.