Musicians stage protest for unpaid royalties

Philani Mzila

Legendary musicians Ringo Madlingozi and Eugene Mthethwa have vowed to fight the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) all the way to the Constitutional Court if they don’t pay them their outstanding royalties dating back to 1995.

Madlingozi, who became a Member of Parliament in 2019, and Mthethwa, a member of Kwaito group called Trompies, entered the offices of SAMRO on Thursday to protest.

CEO Mark Rosin tried four times to forcibly remove them from the premises using private security and SAPS before finally succeeding on Friday.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa, Mthethwa said they left the offices because the board asked to be given six weeks to review the protestors’ complaints.

“People will think that what we are doing is wrong. No, we are fighting for our rights. We are fighting corruption within SAMBRO and they don’t want to pay artists their money.

“It was not until 2019 that I learnt that our songs are listed as undocumented meaning that no one was owning those songs and that no one was able to receive royalties for them,” said the fuming Mthethwa.

He added that the reason he decided to take this route is because SAMRO boss Rosin is refusing to meet with them.

“Mark is representing us as artists. We are members of SAMBRO. When we are not happy as artists, it is painful to see people enriching themselves with our money.”

Scrolla.Africa is in possession of email copies dating back to 2019, in which Mthethwa communicated with the previous board members who ignored him.

“I also forwarded the same complaints to the same Mark who was brought in to save SAMRO but he is not doing a good job.”

Mthethwa added that they will be meeting on Sunday with other artists to discuss a way forward as the protest is gaining momentum because more artists are coming forward reminding them of their royalties.

When contacted for comment, SAMRO Communications Manager, Jacqui Mabuza, sent us a statement they released to media houses in which Rosin confirmed knowing about the protestors’ grievances and criticised them for staging the protest.