Eugene Mthethwa speaks out on what drove him to chain himself at Samro.

Trompies’ Eugene Mthethwa has detailed the reasons why he resorted to chaining himself at the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) building to demand his royalties payment.This comes after a video of Eugene staging a protest regarding money he believes Samro owes him went viral on Friday. In what was day two of his protest, Eugene explained that he chained himself to a table inside Samro’s building to get answers to his questions.

“I have tied myself in a chain as a symbol of how I feel Samro treats us – as its slaves, dogs who should eat crumbs falling from the master’s table and prisoners of our own creative gifts, making us look like it is a curse to be an artist/composer,” he said.

Mthethwa, who is a board member of Samro, alleged that the music rights organisation operates in a system that “robs” artists and composers of their duly earned royalties and rights to benefit the big capitalist monopolies, who are publishers.

He listed the things he believed Samro needed to give answers to:

  1. Undocumented works are the fertile ground for “the heist” taking place at Samro.
  2. Prescription policy is the “sanitiser” to cover and clean up corruption.
  3. The appointment of “incapacitated” leadership and management “is ideal for the sustainability of the heist”.
  4. Samro uses the majority of membership, “who happen to be black, uneducated and ill-informed”, to claim from users on their behalf, but the truth of the matter is that “the few publishers and individuals who aren’t black are the true beneficiaries of the monies collected”.

Mthethwa further alleged that Samro has no accountability and lacks trustworthy corporate governance and systems.

“Lastly, I am here to demand the payment of my money after years of boardroom meetings, e-mails, letters and telephone calls that have not drawn any results.”

Samro CEO Mark Rosin confirmed that Mthethwa had previously raised a complaint regarding the calculation of his royalties.

“Samro has tried on many occasions, through many of its managers and board members, to amicably address his concerns. It is impossible to deal with the issues Mr Mthethwa has raised over the years when there is no willingness to resolve the matter other than his way. We have processes that apply to all members and in our ongoing quest for transparency, we will not circumvent these processes for an individual,” he said.

“The difficulty Mr Mthethwa has is that he fraudulently gained access to Samro funds, which even led to Samro expelling him as a member. In good faith, the present board reinstated his membership. However, we now sit with an outstanding amount due to us by Mr Mthethwa, which his royalty earnings get offset against the balance.

“It is not a desirable situation for either party, but we have had to deal with the matter through the courts.”

Rosin said they were “disappointed” and “alarmed” to see a member behaving in this manner, especially when his conduct was not supported by facts.

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