Samro 'disappointed and alarmed' by Eugene Mthethwa's sit-in protest over 'unpaid royalties'

Eugene Mthethwa
Eugene Mthethwa

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) has condemned the protest action by Eugene Mthethwa who has chained himself to a pole at SAMRO’s premises in Braamfontein.

Mthethwa, a legendary kwaito singer chained himself to a pole yesterday afternoon demanding Samro to attend to his and other artists royalties issues.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Mthethwa who is on the second day of his protest with Ringo Madlingozi, said he was prepared to sit at Samro offices until the collecting society committed itself to resolving the matter.

His bid to get his royalties started six years ago and he said the organisation has been telling him about alleged undocumented music.

“I have decided to stage a sit in at Samro because I am tired of writing e-mails and going to meetings. For the past two years they have been saying they are investigating and rectifying. It has been more than six years dealing with this issue with Samro telling me about undocumented music. I’m asking them what has led to that music not being undocumented?”

“They tell me that they will apply their prescription policy which says they will only pay royalties from 2014 to 2020. For me it is an admission of guilt and I’m saying why should I be punished for their own administrative problems. Some of the songs they don’t want to pay were on higher rotation and I can’t just forget about that. I’m going to be here until they sign and undertaking in writing and explain what they are going to do.”

CEO Mark Rosin has described the protest action by Mthethwa at their premises as regrettable. He further 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.

  “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.

“Quite frankly, we are both disappointed and alarmed to see a member behaving in this manner especially where his conduct is not supported by facts.” said Rosin.

Rosin said contrary to Mthethwa’s claims, Samro pays royalties on a regular basis and over the last two days it has paid over R60 million to local composers and publishers, a payment, widely welcomed.

“Samro exists for the primary purpose of ensuring that members’ rights are observed, advocating for an enabling environment in which music creators can derive the best possible value for their creations and we do so in a transparent manner and are open to audit and verification.,” he said.

Rosin said Samro will always try to engage constructively with its members to ensure that they understand the process by which royalties are collected and distributed.

“We hope that Mr. Mthethwa chooses rather to engage and to stop his protest,” Rosin concluded.

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