Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) have since October 2020 been only in vain seeking audience with that institution trading shamelessly as a Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS). Like a guilty thief, they have been avoiding us since last year October to date. We had finally hoped to meet them as planned this Friday (27th August 2021) after almost 12 months of trying to reach out to them, to discuss the concerns of our members and try find resolve to enable a smooth relationship between the Botswana Creative Industry, Botswana Musicians Union and other very important stakeholders.
After COSBOTS had confirmed this meeting, we were shocked to wake up to their email; cancelling the same mentioned meeting. That COSBOTS cancels a meeting of this nature in the middle of the night is enough to conclude that; theirs are activities of the night, activities belonging to darkness and hence satanic by design. We are putting it out to our members and the Botswana Creative Industry that we have confirmed that monies in royalties, belonging to them are being held by and in possession of people of the night. We at BOMU are more than ever scared that our fears are more than a reality. This cancellation of a scheduled meeting through an email, sent to us in the middle of the night is a further refusal of COSBOTS to account for the millions of money they collect as royalties on behalf of our members; monies that do not reach our members and rather end up in the pockets of a select few. Since coming into office through the 2020 BOMU Annual General Assembly, we at the Botswana Musicians Union have refused to differ with our Members, Partners, Stakeholders, Government and other like-minded institutions publicly, no matter how we differed and or may differ on issues. We have remained and continue to be of a cordial and diplomatic engagement attitude. We engage and engross thoroughly, and as leaders we jealously guard the privacy of our engagements, unless when we have agreed with a concerned party that we should go public on such an engagement. This is with exception to COSBOTS.
As a responsible organisation, we have set respectful rules of engagement with our partners, members, sponsors, donors and stakeholders. But we find ourselves having to publicly pronounce to COSBOTS that; BOMU is unable to set and or adhere to a set of rules governing engagement with those that are racketeers in nature and outlook. We have tried to avoid engaging COSBOTS on this matters publicly as we had hoped that an engagement at leadership level will allow sanity to prevail in favour of our members.
It appears we have become a thorn as we are viewed as those who are refusing thuggery behaviour to prevail. The tendency of COSBOTS is that of rude and discourteous criminal who does not deserve not even a grain of mercy. We have experience of COSBOTS purging our members who had shown interest to contest for leadership positions at COSBOTS structures. Now we understand why our members are being shut out; for they will be a thorn to those who view COSBOTS as a cash cow of the select few and their cronies. We know them. COSBOTS has refused and continues to refuse engagement with BOMU, yet they continue to amass economic gains from the musical products and creative products of our members and the whole Botswana Creative
Industry. These unscrupulous tendencies practiced by a select few and their cronies through fat board allowances and extremely ballooned staff salaries, inclusion of unnecessary huge rentals of big buildings and unjustified staff complement is; done so with absolute and painful disregard to those who create the arts products that they at COSBOSTS collect royalties through. This is a shameful behaviour. We are at the Botswana Musicians Union in pains and anguish. Our members have recently received as little as P1.00 (One Pula) from COSBOTS in the name of royalties for the financial year just concluded. In the same year, COSBOTS’s turn over being 13 Million Pula. Out of this 13 Million Pula, COSBOTS has distributed only 1.5 Million Pula to artists, a paltry 11% of the monies due to artists. This leaves COSBOTS with 11.5 Million Pula. This 11.5 Million Pula is then given names such as; board allowances, salaries, operational costs, rentals, administrative expenditures, strategy sessions and tea and biscuits, and other imaginary costs designed to allow financial rampage.
This is a language that they people of the night, with all intentions seeking to hide, by refusing to meet with BOMU, should explain to the leadership of BOMU. They should also explain this language of theirs, language of people of the night, to our members, to the whole Botswana Creative Industry and to the entire nation of Botswana at large. We can’t be handling Covid pandemic and COSBOTS pandemic at the same time. One has to give way to the other in favour of Batswana and the Botswana Creative Industry. These monies in the form of royalties, are essentially from Batswana in the form of taxes, deliberately designed through the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act CAP 68:02, to cushion Creative Industry Practitioners. These monies are not meant to be collected and distributed by and amongst people who only want to engage at night and in darkness. But sadly so, we have those in possession of these monies refusing to account to stakeholders.
COSBOTS is misbehaving, you can’t be crediting artists P13.00 (Thirteen Pula) in the name of royalties and not even provide a breakdown of how you reached such an disdainful figure of amount, so that at the very least, artists know as to how COSBOTS reached that scanty amount. It is interesting that COSBOTS is able to provide a breakdown of their board allowances were one of them gets a P66, 648.82 cheque and in the same vein credits the owner of copyright, the owner of the intellectual property, the musician, the one who toils and sweats, the owner of the monies and our member; with P11.00 (Eleven Pula) through Poso money.
We continue to appropriately and fittingly engage the Government, our members, partners, stakeholders and like-minded institutions to find resolve to all problems and challenges faced by the Botswana Creative Industry, so that we all collectively and with cordial minds find amicable resolve in the interest of this beautiful nation. We remain thankful to our partners, stakeholders, members and the Government for continuing engagements and dialogues that we have opened. And those that have been opened for us for the betterment, growth and development of the Botswana Creative Industry. We encourage you to not lose hope, we are busy working to correct anomalies, to take wrong doers to task, to imprison if need be and to take control of what belongs to the Botswana Creative Industry and give it back to the rightful royalty owners. We promise to do it procedurally. We conclude by profoundly apologising to our members, our partners, our sponsors and stakeholders for the language and the tone used herein this communication. It is unlike us, but we reached a point where we felt we are bordering on harboring unscrupulous tendencies, which are consuming the livelihoods of the Botswana Creative industry. We also ask God our Lord to forgive us for this kind of engagement. We apologise.
Rasina Winfred Rasina (Secretary General – (BOMU)