BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI/TAFADZWA KACHIKO
ZIMBABWE Music Rights Association (Zimura) executive director Polisile Ncube yesterday told Parliament that government was letting them down because legal institutions were dealing with piracy with kid gloves.
Ncube, who appeared before the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chaired by Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda (MDC-Alliance), said they needed government to fight in their corner to ensure that artistes enjoyed the fruits of their labour.
The committee heard that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation owed several musicians $746 439,09 dating back to 2012 and efforts to recover the money had been futile due to bureaucratic bottlenecks.
“As a collecting society, I think our government is letting us down in terms of the implementation of the Copyright Act. We do have a Copyright Act, the penalties were drafted well, but when it comes to implementing, there is a problem,” she said.
It was disheartening that pirates were getting away with light sentences that were not deterrent because culprits were paying $20 fines or sentenced to community service or warned and discharged, Ncube lamented.
“Those types of charges for us are not deterrent at all because the pirate will just leave the court and go back and set up shop at the same corner. If you catch them again they go to court and pay the same $20 and go back again so if the committee could assist us in terms of the implementation of the Act, it will be helpful,” she said.
Ncube implored Parliament to have the law updated in view of new technologies that have seen music distributed through gadgets such as flash disks, which could not be licenced under the current law.
Zimura legal adviser, Witness Zhangazha, told the committee that it was difficult to enforce court judgments against the ZBC because it was a government parastatal.
He said in 2012 they secured a court judgment to attach ZBC’s Outside Broadcasting van, but failed to do so because it was the same van used for Parliament’s live broadcasts.
“The reason we are coming to you is because you don’t just walk into ZBC even with your sheriff and attach government property. It is difficult, and ZBC knows, which is why we are coming here in desperation,” he said.
He said the relationship between Zimura members and ZBC was contractual so when the contract is breached, they had the legal right to drag ZBC to court.
Musicians Charles Charamba, Mechanic Manyeruke and First Farai also appealed to the committee to assist them access their royalties to enable them to
leave an inheritance for their families.