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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 17 May 2015

THE ROT AT MUSIC SOCIETY OF KENYA


There is simmering discomfort in the Music Copyright Society of Kenya as members gang up against the management.
 As it goes, exit the tiger enters the dragon. The dragon has however transformed itself, and has the head of a dragon, mouth of a lion, eyes of the cobra, claws of a leopard, stomach of a hyena and body of an octopus
All these was observed by the Blue Eye team, in the recently concluded (MSCK - Dinossaur) annual general meeting, held on April 30 at Embu’s Kangaru Boys’ High School.
Since the inception of the institution in 1983, with a team whose interest touched on the hearts of members, the first directors were Laban Juma Toto,  David Amunga, Rajab S Chumbii, Daudi Kabaka, Betty Njeri Tett, Griffith Justus Siboe, Rautta Athiambo and Robert Noel Simpson.
 This was a team that had the interests of Kenyan musicians at heart but the manner in which they were shoved out leaves a lot to be desired and exactly what happened baffles many as carnivores took over as the herbivores were shown the exit door.
All this happened in 2003 and during this time under the chairmanship of the late Habel Kifoto, things were not all that bad, but that was to last for a short time as the institution was infested by advocates, office of the registrar and the Attorney General’s office. This had a great opportunity of money made in collections but they took advantage of members’ ignorance and lack of knowledge by introducing divide and rule tactics and segregation of members with those to be given and not to be given royalties which gave them a loophole to manipulate and oppress them. Kifoto will be remembered for his foresight and many musicians praise and honour him as he was always there to assist members. 
His death was indeed a big blow to artists as things started to take a nosedive in 2011 when the clique came on board and took over the chairmanship. Members  complain that the last time they got royalty of  Sh10,000 was before Makupa Annual General meeting but  since then,  over six years ago, the collective management organisation has not been distributing royalties to its members, confining it into insolvency for failing in its mandate guaranteed by its members and contravening regulatory organ the  Kenya Copyright Board law under section 46 article 4 (d) to collect and distribute the royalties, to which its liable and subjected to deregistration under article 9 (b).
It is difficult for one to understand how MSCK operates since it is a long time since members started complaining over the manner in which they are being mistreated by the institution, lack of royalties and misappropriation of funds, a scenario where Kenya Copyright Board  should address. There are accusations of lack of knowledge on the plight of the artistes, lack of interpretation of the copyright law on their part which is seen as one of the major problems facing musicians. If you cite the copyright law section 5 on the functions of board,  (g) a word “ancillary” depending on how is used and understood, can make a difference in meaning with different angles of understanding. If used as noun or adjective it has different meanings. Therefore depending on how the word is used, then it can be difficult for the institution to be insolvent or wound up, as the impression is that MSCK is a subsidiary of the Kenya Copyright Board. The other main problem of the artistes lies within the attorney general’s office, under Githu Mungai, whose office Kenya Copyright Board falls under and Bernice Gachegu in the registrar’s office. That is the reason why complaints have always fallen on deaf ears, it is said.
What might be the problem with artists? When and how will the members, extricate themselves out of this mess of mental captivity and exploitation.
The answer is very simple and clear, lack of power of the pen.
Many musicians wonder whether the Sh3,000 given as allowance during the AGM is considered as allowance or royalty. A source said that members of the society were ignorant of their rights as many of their works were being played out through electronic media like skiza tunes, ringstones. Other monies generated are through general distribution also known as Triple P, being money collected from public performing places which members should be given without any discrimination that amounts to millions of shillings, a source said.
 Therights members of the society that they need to enjoy include  patent rights, mutilation rights, distortion rights and mechanical rights
“If justice is done, I can guarantee you that the musician’s eighth generation can live on their sweat. A song is like a 100-storey building which no one should be allowed to tamper with. It is either you say enough is enough and demand for your rights, or continue to live in poverty throughout your remaining life in the world,” a member said.
The source asked members to change their attitude in the manner in which they would want the society ran before it is turned into another Mboi-Kamiti.
 “It’s time for members to change their attitude of thinking and doing things. If not so, there are very hard times for the members ahead. Changing the directors should not change anything much as the board is weak, vulnerable and easy to manipulate. The concluded elections were a mockery of justice, propagated by the office  under CEO Maurice Okoth and the outgoing chairman Mike Maganzo, in conjunction with the company secretary Martha Maina,” claimed a member. 
Maina was heckled and booed when she rose up to read the outcome of the elections, She was accused of misleading the society with poor legal advice and having an incompetent record in reference.
 “The big question is: is she taking MSCK the way of Kihiu Muiri Society and the defunct Mboi-Kamiti which ended up in disarray, killings, disappearance of persons among other awful atrocities and which resulted to deregistration of the society?” posed another member.
She was accused of posing a threat to the existence MCSK as she was known for going by the wave of “where the money is”. 
The management team christened Maganzo people’s operatives are to be the only members who hold the society’s top secrets on how the society operates and thus are untouchable.
“All what went on that day was victory to the office, reason being that the whole management team are called Maganzo’s operatives,” members lamented. They accused Maganzo, Okoth and Jacklene Oduor of manipulating the elections.  Maganzo further went ahead and filed a petition challenging Nairobi elections. However, members believe that the court petition will be struck off.
“MCSK made sure that its magic scoring card was well set and applied from the beginning as it all started from candidates’ nominations. During the process of opening the nomination box, one candidate stopped the opening until and unless all contentious issues of election irregularities were addressed   for free and fair elections but he was condemned for allegedly bringing in politics resulting into having the society secretary to unanimously be forced to open the box.
Sources said it was at that time the crookedness of officals became apparent as the axe of disqualification fell on Henry Njenga, (Mwalimu),   Albert Gacheru (Wamaitu), Makali, Jared, CDM Kiratu, Saitoti,  Lincon,  SK Nderitu, Man Igwe,  Maneno and Lady B.
Since these names were on the ballot paper, a court injunction was hurriedly sought to restrict the elections from taking place among other issues. The petition was however struck off and elections were done with a lot of irregularities in favour of those who were elected who had adopted a divide and rule tactics.
For Maganzo to get his third term in office, a plan was hatched to change the constitution and come up with what they termed as a new era called Mwamko Mpya.   But the writing is on the wall for the officials after Nairobi Moi Avenue musicians dubbed Mayoyo and their counterparts on River Road known as Wahenga have ganged up and are quietly scheming on how to oust the current officials from office.
Besides that, there is a case in court filed by a member, accusing the society of various irregularities by the management which is causing Okoth sleepless nights. He is accused of not involving an independent body to oversee the elections which allegedly led to rigging, no certified list of members in every region, articles, proposals presented were not ratified and a fake adoption of a memorandum making it an illegal document.
Other issues of interest demanded by the members are that all members to be issued with membership certificates and cards, elections to be held at an annual general meeting with regions abolished, to amend the constitution and not merely changing it and to incorporate the amendments into the articles.
The members accused Nairobi director, Christopher David Kiratu popularly known as CDM, whom they accused of taking sides and behaving as if he had come from heaven. Maganzo had to swallow his pride after he lost the Central region which he was sure of clinching.
The gameplan was that the threat was in Nairobi region, with the contestants of  Wamaitu and Mwalimu wa Jane, the favourite in Nairobi region was Mwalimu and Wamaitu as both had shown interest of chairmanship post. Gacheru reportedly knew of the irregularities in filing the petition but then later withdrew when he saw his victory coming. The fear was that with Mwalimu and Wamaitu, the election of the chairman would have been difficult, therefore the case in court had to be delayed.
It was unthinkable for an election of a chairman to go on without the representation of Nairobi region which holds a 40pc of artistes. His own Rift Valley  and Eastern have issues with the elections.