Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango has hailed Lake of Stars (LoS) for its corporate social responsibility in villages around the festival venue amid discontent among the locals.
But the villagers under Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda are discontent with the unfulfilled promises LoS made to them a few years ago.
“They promised us an adult literacy school and a library. They also said we will be benefiting from car park revenue. But they have never given us these funds. We are not following up because it was not a signed contract. They are just promising us without signing anywhere.
“That aside, we are still waiting for our promises. A promise is a promise. They need to fulfil it,” said village head Chipoka.
Chipoka said she is yet to confirm cases of poor sanitation, immorality and other illicit behaviours that would come due to the festival.
“In these aspects, we would say Lake of Stars has tried to educate our people against such behaviours. Since the festival started, our youths are educated against immorality. So, if there are such cases then it’s among those coming for the festival and not in our community,” she said.
LoS director Will Jameson admitted making some of the promises, but blamed the locals for backtracking in some of the projects.
He, however, said the project has constructed a nursery, primary and secondary school in the area named Mwana Africa.
He said the locals are also benefiting through businesses that thrive due to the festival, with about 60 locals setting up stores.
Jameson said they will donate all the timber worth K4 million ($7 030) they used in erecting the stages to be made into for the schools in the area.
In reaction, Mhango applauded Lake of Stars for such initiatives, calling upon the corporate world to support arts festivals in the socio-economic development of the country.
“Government is leaning towards such festivals because they are one way of contributing to the development of the country. And government wants to use Lake of Stars as a vehicle in promoting tourism,” he said.