STAKEHOLDERS in the book industry at the ongoing Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) have claimed that some police officers, politicians and government officials were involved in book piracy, suffocating the industry of resources.
BY NUNURAI JENA
The writers, publishers and booksellers have also accused the government of not passing laws for stiffer sentences against pirates and violators of copyright laws.
Speaking at the ZIBF indaba, renowned writer, Musaemura Zimunya said it was unfortunate that the police and high-ranking politicians are contributing to illegal photocopying of reading materials found on the streets.
“Within the police force, high-ranking officers are also involved in piracy, even some big politicians, they are involved in milking the writers because they have the means,” he alleged.
“Those small boys selling books on the streets are just workers.
“Harass them and you will see the real culprits.
“School authorities like headmasters are also to blame, as they buy one copy and go on to photocopy books for the entire school with the blessing of government officials.”
Zimunya’s sentiments were echoed by ZIBF director, Blazio Tafireyi, who said there was need for political will to end piracy.
“The main problem is lawlessness in the country, which only the government, through the police, can deal with conclusively,” he said.
“Civil servants are among those abusing government resources in photocopying books and selling them to those operating on street corners.
“Even politicians are also involved in piracy. Recently, we were beaten up at Harvest House when we went there to ask why they were photocopying books.
“They are not alone, it is not the MDC-T as a party, but there are some bad elements within their ranks, even in Zanu PF and the police, there are bad apples within their ranks.”
But National Police Spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday accused the stakeholders of making unfounded allegations against the police.
“Those are just allegations against the police, have they reported anyone about the issue and who did the investigations? Where is the reference number of the case? Go back to them and ask if they have reported anyone about the matter not to just make allegations,” she said.
Social commentator, Rejoice Ngwenya, however, said it was the responsibility of writers and publishers to get a statutory instrument to enforce the arrest with the help of the police.
Officiating at the opening of ZIBF on Wednesday, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora said headmasters and those entrusted with buying school material should work within the confines of the copyright laws, adding that it was a shame that some of his officials were arraigned before the courts accused of violating copyright laws.
Dokora said he attended a court session in Marondera, where a headmaster was being charged for violating the Copyright Act by photocopying an Ordinary Level set book and the accused did not even appreciate that what he did was wrong instead he thought he had saved money for the school.