Discontent is brewing among Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) members on the existence of what they call Cosoma Members Task Force which is being accused of overstepping its mandate.
Meanwhile, rights holder associations have also accused the task force of lacking a balanced representation from across the arts sector, observing that it is dominated by musicians. They also argue it is operating without proper ratification of its existence.
What has riled the members of the copyright body is the meeting the task force is reported to have held with the Minister of Arts, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi last week. Questions have been asked as to which voice the task force was representing.
Filmmakers Association of Malawi president Ezaius Mkandawire said it is surprising that Cosoma members do not know what the task force is standing for, let alone the objectives that they want to achieve.
He said: “I find it odd that Cosoma, which is a government company, requires a task force to advance its agenda to the same government. It is important for them to seek mandate from the membership and matters they want to represent.
“Members also need to be furnished with the reasoning behind the creation of the task force.”
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president Gloria Manong’a, in a separate interview, said as far she was concerned, the mandate of the task force ended at helping Cosoma collecting outstanding royalties from different radio stations.
“We hear they raised the issue of the welfare fund with the minister and we are asking under which delegation. We have a committee composed of presidents from various associations overseeing that issue. So, who mandated them to talk there?” she said.
On his part, Photographers Association of Malawi (Photama) president Lucky Mkandawire said if the task force wants to continue operating, it should change its name and structure to make it more inclusive.
The task force was formed on December 14 2017. It is headed by Anthony Dumba, Peter Sambo is the vice-chairperson, Diwa Khwiliro is secretary. Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango,Tonney Chitimatima, Queen Fayah and Ethel Kamwendo-Banda are members.
But Dumba said the composition of the group was determined by the members who were attended a meeting with Cosoma when the committee was formed.
He said: “The committee is evolving from its initial mandate. After members saw that it is benefiting Cosoma, they suggested that we re-look at its composition, mandate and name. We are currently developing terms of reference as agreed during the last general assembly.”
Cosoma executive director Dora Makwinja-Salamba said as far as she was concerned, the last general assembly mandated the committee to continue its work.