By Own Correspondent
South African kwaito singer and composer Eugene Mthethwa, of Trompies fame, yesterday chained himself to a pole at the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO’s) offices over unpaid royalties.
According to media reports, Mthethwa arrived at the SAMRO building about 1pm and was accompanied by singer and politician Ringo Madlingozi, demanding that the collective management organization (CMO) pay royalties dating back to 1998.
“Today [Thursday], I have taken a firm revolutionary stance of making a sit-in at SAMRO in need of answers to the many questions that I have been decently asking without answers,”
Mthethwa said in statement shared on Instagram. “I have tied myself in a chain as a symbol of how I feel SAMRO treats us, as its slaves, dogs who should eat crumbs falling from the master’s table and prisoners of our own creative gifts making us look like it is a curse to be an artist/composer. SAMRO operates in a system that robs artists/composers their duly earned royalties and rights to benefit the big capitalist monopolies who are publishers.”
Mthethwa, who last year claimed that songs he contributed to as a composer, author and co-author were allocated to other artists on the SAMRO portal, said that undocumented works were the “fertile ground for the heist taking place at SAMRO.” He went on to say that “the appointment of incapacitated leadership and management is the ideal for the sustainability of the heist.”
Today SAMRO issued a statement in response to Mthethwa’s protest condemning his action describing his concerns to be devoid of truth and lacking any merit. The music licensing organization added that it has tried on many occasions to amicably address his concerns to no avail.
“SAMRO CEO Mark Rosin confirmed that Mthethwa has raised a complaint regarding the calculation of his royalties and SAMRO has tried on many occasions, through many of its managers and board members, to amicably address his concerns.
Rosin described the protest action as regrettable.
“It is impossible to deal with the issues Mthethwa has raised over the years, where there is no willingness by Mr Mthethwa to resolve the matter other than his way. We have processes that apply to all members and in our ongoing quest for transparency, we will not circumvent these processes for an individual.
“The difficulty Mr Mthethwa has is that he fraudulently gained access to SAMRO funds, which even led to SAMRO expelling him as a member. In good faith, the present board reinstated his membership. However, we now sit with an outstanding amount due to us by Mr Mthethwa which his royalty earnings get off-set against the balance. It is not a desirable situation for either party but we have had to deal with the matter through the courts,” continued Rosin.
Rosin concluded by saying SAMRO will always try to engage constructively with its members to ensure that they understand the process by which royalties are collected and distributed.
Credit: Music in Africa