The South African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) has come under fire once again, this time with outspoken poet and musician Ntsiki Mazwai at the helm.
In a post on Facebook, Mazwai stated: “Dear Artists, we are seeing millions disappearing at Samro while our royalties remain unpaid. Please open a case. Here is a way forward. We can't keep dying broke. This is not ok. It's time to fight back”.
This was accompanied by a screenshot of a supposed conversation with public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, telling Mazwai to open a case with the Police commercial crime unit and contact the Portfolio Committee of Arts and the DTI.
Charl Blignaut of City Press details this alleged scam that has seen Samro docking up to 83.3 % of its artists’ royalties. The investigation found that “of the R370 million paid out annually by Samro, about 70% goes to the major multinational publishers and leading independent publishers operating in South Africa, who also constitute about half of Samro’s board.”
This practice could be traced back to 1963 where the name “Dominicus Publicus” or DP appears as the composer. Copyright lawyer Graeme Gilfillan estimates that R1.2 billion was deducted in this name over 55 years.
Blignaut continues saying: “Publishers occupy the highest tier as the majority of Samro’s full members, and therefore, obtain shares of Samro income that candidate members cannot.“
Aside from these findings, hitmaker Gabi Le Roux, a member of Samro, reportedly told Sunday World that a group of “rogue” musicians loyal to former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is preventing the organisation from functioning properly.
“I am sorry to tell you that our music industry is now under siege from a small group of individuals who want to use the Dubai forensic report to topple the Samro board, Moshito board and all other structures, insert themselves, so capturing the South African music industry,” Le Roux said.
This is in reference to a forensic report that has outlined Samro’s short-sightedness in attempting to form the Arab Emirates Music Rights Organisation.
Samro is now accusing former CEO Sipho Dlamini of losing R47 million in the project and intends to take action against him to recoup the amounts.
Dlamini claims they knew about the plans all along saying: “This project was undertaken with the full approval and support of the Samro board at the time. It is regrettable that I am now being singled out and made a scapegoat, especially when the vast majority of expenditure on the project took place after I left Samro back in March 2016.”
According to Fin24, Samro was short by R134 million to cover the R589 million owed to its members at the end of 2017.