MTHETHWA ANNOUNCES PROBE INTO SAMRO ‘SCAM’
As accusations flew between the SA Music Rights Organisation (Samro) and gospel star Hlengiwe Mhlaba’s copyright lawyer, Graeme Gilfillian, this week, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa quickly jumped into the fray.
“The minister wishes to advise that he has given a directive to the legal unit of the department of arts and culture to immediately initiate a process which will culminate in the appointment of a commission that will be headed by a retired judge,” read a statement by Mthethwa.
He decried the reality of SA artists dying paupers and said he hoped the commission would bring about lasting change.
The claims published in City Press last week involved mostly gospel, mbaqanga and maskandi artists.
The musicians made new versions of traditional songs and were allegedly having 83.3% of their royalties unlawfully deducted since 1963. This week Mhlaba – who says 24 of her 90 songs had been affected by the alleged scam – told City Press the report caused an uproar.
“It’s all everyone wants to talk about. Other musicians are very happy. Pastors have been calling. There is support from all over,” said the multiplatinum-selling gospel star.
Zimasa Velaphi, spokesperson for the department of arts and culture, said: “The department has this week sought legal advice on how the process of appointing the commission of inquiry should be taken forward and who should appoint the commission.”
“What’s right is right,” said Mhlaba.
“We are not here to fight Samro. We want change and hope to be part of the solution.”
Gospel musician Hlengiwe Mhlaba