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Kwaito Legend Protests Against South African Music Rights Organisation for Unpaid Royalties

Kwaito Legend Protests Against South African Music Rights Organisation for Unpaid Royalties

South African Kwaito musician, Eugene Mthethwa, has reached a resolution after protesting against the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). The Trompies member alleges that SAMRO has not paid royalties to him for more than thirty years.

Eugene Mthethwa, of the famous kwaito group, Trompies, has gone on a protest against the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). Mthethwa's protest reportedly began this past Thursday when he locked himself inside the offices of SAMRO and demanded to be paid royalties dating back to 1988. The music veteran reportedly vowed not to leave the offices in Braamfontein until his paperwork was filed. A video of the seemingly distressed musician circulated on social media shortly afterwards.

Read: South Africans Are Not Impressed by Government's Second Wave of Artist Relief Fund

According to the The Citizen, Mthethwa chained himself to a pole at the entrance of SAMRO offices after claiming he was denied a meeting with SAMRO. The kwaito legend alleged that SAMRO has not paid royalties due to him from 1988 to 2021 and that he has been enquiring about the process for the past six years. The news of his protest soon caught attention of social media with Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Afro-soul legend Ringo Madlingozi supporting his sit-in at the offices for two days. Mthethwa did not hold back in his response to SABC News:

"SAMRO has kept me as a slave. It has kept me as their dog that eats crumbs that are falling from the master's table. I'm saying, I'm here to get all the answers that I deserve and also to get my money that I'm supposed to get because I've been waiting for too long. I've been talking decently for the past two years and even before that."

However, according to the Sowetan, CEO Mark Rosin states that Mthethwa's complaints had previously been addressed and furthermore, the artist was expelled from SAMRO for fraudulently accessing funds from the body. Rosin went on to explain that Mthethwa had been reinstated but that the royalties were withheld to off-set the balance owed to SAMRO.

Mthethwa's protest follows the economic blow to South Africa's entertainment industry due to COVID-19 regulations which limited live performances. Artists have continuously slammed the government for the lack of financial support for artists with most of the COVID-19 relief funds going to sports. South African musicians hold only 30 percent on commercial radio and 60 percent on public radio. As a result, artists called for increased airplay of local content on television and radio platforms during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Admittedly, Mthethwa's protest for royalties includes the claim that his music has been on high rotation. According to Mthethwa's Twitter post, an undisclosed resolution was met with SAMRO after he complained that the organisation would only pay out royalties from 2014 due to alleged administrative errors.

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Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns (via Getty Images)

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Fela Kuti fans have a lot to look forward to this year as Partisan Records (home to Fela's catalog) has announced plans to release special reissues of two 1971 albums: London Scene and Live! With Ginger Baker, the classic album in which Fela and his band Africa '70 where joined by the Cream drummer.

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