HARARE – Despite frantic efforts by the Zimbabwean government to end music piracy the scourge is proving to be far from ending.
This year recording studios slashed prices for CDs to compete with pirated CDs but it seems music consumers are used to buying discs from the streets.
The Daily News noted that inaccessibility of CDs on the market is one of the factors that fuels piracy across the country.
Gospel musician Richard Nhika’s latest album Inzwai was not accessible on the official market as the stable tasked to market and distribute it His Voice Gospel International Production (HVGIP) was failing to meet soaring demand from fans pirates took advantage.
Inzwai was only accessible on the black market so fans were left with no option but to buy it from pirates.
However, HIVGIP authorised Diamond Studios to take over in the marketing and distribution of the product.
“HVGIP used to produce between 100 and 200 copies per week meaning to say it was not easily accessible.
“Our fans were complaining about the inaccessibility of it thereby Diamond Studios chipped in such that everyone will get their copy as the company has the capacity to distribute many copies to meet the surging demand,” said Nhika.
Local musicians no longer have faith and the zeal in fighting the music monster in the industry; most of them are fuelling it.
Musician Kudzi Nyakudya and Chegutu-based Afro-pop artiste Baffalo X were reportedly found pirating their own art works.
Veteran film producer Lillian Chidavaenzi who is currently working on the latest Gringo comedy — Gringo — Chikwambo Chiye Chadzoka! is fearing to put the comedy on the discs because of piracy.
“Gringo comedy is coming soon on the big screen but what worries us most is piracy. We are going to screen it in community halls and other public facilities because if we rush making DVDs we will regret,” said Chidavaenzi.
Music and Visual Anti-Piracy Organisation of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Republic Police regularly carry out operations to curb piracy of music and film productions.
The perpetrators are liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years according to the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (Chapter 26:05).
However, local artistes have lost confidence in the blitz carried by anti-piracy organisations and the police alleging that the raids are meant to benefit only the authorities.
The national arts merit award-winning actress-cum-singer Edith WeUtonga said she is tired of hearing about the raids.
“The culprits will be raided today and tomorrow they will be free doing the same — pirating and selling our music. There are no stiffer penalties for perpetrators here in Zimbabwe that is why it is proving difficult to end the problem,” said WeUtonga.
The bassist said piracy will be taken in to consideration when the nation starts taking artistes seriously.
Sam Manjalima who spoke on behalf of Freddy “Kapfupi” Manjalima of the Orchestra Ndoozvo band is of the same notion.
“We are happy that they are trying but because we do not have a serious organisation standing for musicians in the country, the problem is still far from ending. It is not surprising to find those arrested back in the streets tomorrow, selling again — it is so pathetic,” said Manjalima.
Upcoming gospel artiste Agnes Gudza aka Eglada said raids are good if they yield positive results to musicians.
“If they are really carrying out those blitz to help us in good faith it is okay but if they are carrying them to enhance or line their pockets that is bad,” she said.
A high-profile musician who declined to be named attacked both the authorities and government.
“The authorities seem to tolerate the problem and carrying the regular crack downs to their advantages. The problem of illegal structures in the country was bigger than the problem of piracy facing the music and film industry but the government managed to solve the problem once and for all through operation Murambatsvina.
“If the government managed to halt the erection of illegal structures in the country, why is it failing to halt piracy? Piracy in the country has created employment to desperate job seekers, so it seems they are not willing to end the piracy problem, lest their jobs will be over,” fumed the artiste.
Shockingly some anti-piracy organisations are reportedly fanning piracy in the country.
Early this year Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) lashed out at what it described as bogus anti-piracy organisations formed in the country for fanning piracy.
After all has been said and done, the question still remain: Will Zimbabwe be able to stop music piracy?