Stars against poverty: Hugh Jackman and Chelsea Handler act as hosts during the Global Citizen Festival at Central Park in Manhattan, New York, on September 24 2016. Picture: REUTERS
Stars against poverty: Hugh Jackman and Chelsea Handler act as hosts during the Global Citizen Festival at Central Park in Manhattan, New York, on September 24 2016. Picture: REUTERS

A festival coming to Africa for the first time is promising that "the only earners on the concert are the members of the public", but this is being disputed by some.

Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 concert will take place at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on December 2. Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Usher, Ed Sheeran, Tyler Perry, Forest Whitaker and other famous faces will be there.

Global Citizen is a registered not-for-profit organisation in SA, the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Its goal is to help achieve the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and a world free of extreme poverty. To this end it built a rewards-based system.

A database of users is built using social media. Users earn points through clicktivism. The points earn a ticket to a Global Citizen event. But in SA the poorest do not have access to this social media game.

The organisation’s founder, Australian Hugh Evans, 35, said online: "If you earn enough points and keep earning, you can enter more times. So, it’s essentially game-ified: the more actions you take, the more points you earn and the more times you could enter the lottery and therefore your greater chance of winning a ticket. It’s democracy at work."

Since launching in 2012, Global Citizen claims to have 24-million engagements a month on online platforms and boasts 15-million "actions".

It does not disclose its text and data mining, and the advertising revenue made on this online traffic.

As SA has no regulation on online contracts, citizens’ data rights are automatically handed to the legal jurisdiction of each social media platform. This "data slavery" allows the building of cash hoards in many countries.

Global Citizen spokesman Andrew Kirk says the organisation and its partners observe all the laws and regulations that apply in the countries in which they operate.

The organisation focuses actions on politicians and claims to have elicited 390 direct commitments to date. Says Kirk: "We are able to hold politicians to their word."

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s pledge of $100m in taxpayers’ money to the Global Partnership for Education came after a Twitter war on her by US comedian Stephen Colbert. He clogged her social media feed, forcing her to commit. Solberg will join President Cyril Ramaphosa, UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana at the December event, among other politicians.

The concert is being sponsored by the Motsepe Foundation, which brought Barcelona to FNB stadium for a match against Sundowns in 2018, also part of the Mandela 100 celebration.

Hassan Lorgat, of the Benchmarks Foundation, says the Motsepe Foundation must explain why it is giving money to a "glamour show when it can’t look after areas near its own business interests. The idea of good neighbourliness is you help the people you need to help first. If they really want to make the government’s work efficient and accountable, they should help rather than create a forced pressure from the outside. What they are doing is of little significance and has no developmental impacts in the long run," Lorgat said.

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Economic Empowerment Commission says the live event and production sector is not specified in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

Global Citizen has also partnered the author of best-selling novel Coconut, Kopano Matlwa Mabaso, in her capacity as executive director of the Zero-Stunting Initiative. Their aim is to "get African leaders to commit to increased funding in the area of nutrition", says Kirk.

Another partner is Harambee, a Johannesburg-based youth employment accelerator to "undertake youth skills development in event management, written and video content, media and marketing, and campaigning," says Kirk.

Global Citizen events are produced by Live Nation, the largest event company in the world. The company began a partnership with SA’s Big Concerts — the largest concert promoter in SA with the biggest spend on technical and production services — in 2009 and now holds a controlling interest.

The South African Roadies Association, which trains youth in the backstage economy, has been campaigning for Big Concerts to transform and has filed a complaint with the Competition Commission. "Of the four big concert companies, not one has a single share of black equity, and there are no black directors, nor are there any blacks in any senior management positions in any of the companies," its complaint reads.

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Economic Empowerment Commission says the live event and production sector is not specified in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

Kirk says Global Citizen will focus on preferential procurement from small, medium and micro-sized enterprises and from suppliers at least 51% black owned "and/or at least 30% black women-owned".

Big Concerts chairman Attie Van Wyk says complaints about the event are "a malicious smear campaign with the view to extorting an undisclosed benefit, probably of a selfish financial nature. Our services are provided on a pro bono basis. I have no further comment."