Mungoshi family, College Press at loggerheads

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MULTIPLE award–winning novelist Charles Muzuva Mungoshi’s family has accused College Press Publishers of attempting to cash in on his works when they had not been remitting royalties from sales of his Shona novel, Makunun’unu Maodza Moyo.

Nunurai Jena

The author’s wife, Jesesi Mungoshi, told NewsDay that College Press have now renewed their interest in re-printing the book after it was recently selected as an O-Level setbook.

The book, which is the only one among the author’s novels published by College Press, was first published in 1970 and the family claims that the contract has never been reviewed to date.

Jesesi said the publishing company has failed to furnish them with a copy of the publishing contract despite their repeated requests.

Mungoshi, who is still on a recovery path after falling into a coma in 2010, would have pressed for his dues if he was still in good health, according to his wife.

“Charles is one person who could have helped things, but he has been ill for some time after he went into a coma in 2010 and has never fully recovered,” said Jesesi.

The matter came to light after Jesesi had approached the publisher early this year enquiring about royalties from the book and why it was no longer available in bookshops.

“They told me that they don’t have any royalties since the book is not being printed because it was not in demand. They said they stopped printing the book in 1997,” said Jesesi.

She said they were disturbed by College Press’ renewed interest in printing copies of the book because it has been selected as a setbook and could be a cash cow for the publisher.

Mungoshi’s lawyer Fanuel Nyamayaro described College Press as “arrogant” after the publisher had allegedly refused to engage him and stressed they were only prepared to deal with Mungoshi when they knew his health was failing.

“How can they say they want to talk with Charles in person when they know too well that he is very ill, yet they have not been remitting royalties since 1997 and there have been no statement of account,” said Nyamayaro.
The lawyer has since advised the Mungoshi family to print the book in a move that is likely to see them lock horns with the publisher.
College Press managing director Benny Mugabe said the book was never out of stock, but booksellers had not been placing orders due to the economic crunch.
“The book was never out of stock, but booksellers were not ordering it from our warehouse,” said Mugabe.
Mungoshi has published several award-winning novels and plays in both English and Shona since the 1970s. These include Waiting for the Rain, Walking Still, Coming of the Dry Season, Kunyarara Hakusi kutaura? Inongova Njakenjake and Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva.

13 COMMENTS

  1. When Zimbabwean musicians like the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi broke from the then dominant recording companies like ZMC and started recording on their own, life changed for the better.

    I don’t know what the copy-write law says or who owns what percentage regarding Mungoshi’s books and his publishers but I think the Mungoshis should keep fighting for it to be changed and re-print the book with another publisher under a favorable deal.

    This man is one of my favorite African writers of all time. Get well soon Mr Mungoshi.

  2. Discarded as dirt and treated as trash by this book publisher, not that they see the gravy train with his name written on they try a cheap swindle..Where is this rot going to end? I think they should just find another publisher and be done with this publisher..This arrogance and skullduggery is what is killing their own publishing industry with writers opting to self publish on the internet..Either they embrace change on their doorstop or be allowed to die on their own doorstep. Publishers should wake up and march to the drum of a moving world not stay steeped in 19th century practice!

  3. Discarded as dirt and treated as trash by this book publisher, now that they see the gravy train with Mungoshi’s name written on they try a cheap swindle..Where is this rot going to end? I think Mungoshi should just find another publisher and be done with this publisher..This arrogance and skullduggery is what is killing their own publishing industry with writers opting to self publish on the internet..Either they embrace change on their doorstop or be allowed to die in their filth on their own doorstep. Publishers should wake up and march to the drum of a moving world not stay steeped in 19th century practice!

  4. The lawyer should insist on obtaining the contract so that he can take the best course of action, which will probably to take the publisher to court for breach of contract since it is probably highly likely the publisher deliberately avoided sending Mungoshi a royalty statement. The only reason why a publisher would legally not send a royalty statement is if the book has sold a negligible number of copies. But that has to be clearly stipulated in the contract.

    The other option for the lawyer is to sue the publisher for breach of contract if it turns out that the lack of royalty statements was negligence on their part.

    As an intellectual properly lawyer, Mr Nyamayaro should know better than advising the Mungoshi family to commit a crime by printing a parallel edition of the book. The publisher, rich as they usually come, will sue the family to ruin, and also win the case. As it is, the publisher can be obliged by law to produce the contract through a court order. It is mischievous for the publisher to refuse to deal with the Mungoshi family lawyer since they have the right to use the services of a lawyer of their choice in the conduct of their family affairs with any institution.

    Another alternative is to obtain a court interdict to stop the printing and distribution of the book until such time that the matter is resolved by a competent court of law. The lawyer should also carefully study Zimbabwe’s copyright law in conjunction with international intellectual law with a view to understand the family’s legal rights regarding the contract Mr Mungoshi signed many years ago.

  5. all books must be published and sold through a reputable accounting firm to promote accountability of sales,these publishing houses were formerly created and owned by unscrupulous whites to exploit black writers like Mungoshi

  6. Pasi nevadzvanyiriri vakaita seCollege Press. Izvozvi vana vake vari kutambura nenhamo asi zvaakasevenza zviripo. Mupei mari awane kurapwa. Pasi netwumacontract tunodzvanyirira vashandi vana vavo vachikwangwaya.” Maiweeee ndofa kani nenzara..” Vana varikuchema asi College Press muchizadza machemba nemadhoti nemhuri dzenyu. Get away ipai munhu mari yake apa. Isuvo hama ngatiite macontracts anozikanwa nemhuri dzedu uye kuchengetedza maphotocopy azvo for tommorow’s sake.

  7. Thats being really arrogant to say you will deal directly with charles whom you know is recovering from a comma, You want him to stroke now and die, are you saying mukadzi wacho is illiterate to an extent yekutadza kunzwisisa nhau ye maLoyalties, iwe ka iwe ita mushe iwe unyore ako maBook kana uri that intelligent, chienda unorara une hope iwe.

  8. Simple the mungoshi family should just take one copy of the novel to china and reprint an ultra low cost edition,strike a profit sharing/distribution deal with zimsec then flood the market with the book!ofcourse college press will respond with a lawsuit for breach of contract citing mungoshi,zimsec as first and second respondents respectively,whilst they battle it out in court zimsec &mungoshi will be raking up proceeds from the book sales .its gurranteed,proven&time tested that in zim since independence you cant win a lawsuit against the state!even if you ‘win’ we wonder from which state coffers are you going to be paid! In the end the case files will gather dust at the courts or college press will wakeup to their senses and resort to an out of court settlement since practically they will lose anyway! sending a clear message to arrogant publishers who exploit at will!the mungoshi family would at least have realised something from his work.

  9. Okay relax, the issue of royalties. Was Jesesi still married to Charles? Had she not abandoned Charles during his down days and sped off to UK? I last saw Charles drinking in despair due to heart ache.

    Is Jesesi not another Winnie Mandikizela – Mandela, who clings on to the name of a man who left her due to her own mischief, now the self appointed spokesperson for Nelson Mandela who cannot talk?

    Royalties may end up in the hands of an opportunistic estranged spouse.

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