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Irate artists want COSBOTS board sacked

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  • Treasurer resigns following legal report
  • Members seek legal assistance

 

BOAGO RAMAPHANE

Members of the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) are calling for the sacking of the CEO and some various members of board, members who they say have failed them and the local music industry as a whole.
In fact, The members who are artists, blame Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) for its failure to execute their mandate of overseeing and supervising COSBOTS.
“CIPA’s role in terms of addressing COSBOTS matters has shown that the organization dropped the ball and did not act on all the complaints that were raised last year December,” read a letter that was recently submitted to CIPA. The letter addressed to CIPA by artists and promoters, highlights that CIPA’s role in the Board of COSBOTS is confusing and compromises the organization. The members position is that this is particularly due to the mess at COSBOTS, which can be equally attributed to CIPA as it has a seat in on the board.
The artists and promoters among them members of COSBOTS wrote to CIPA that it has failed to act on the many complaints lodged to with them since last year and furthermore that it never responds to those who complain, leaving the artists in limbo and disgruntled and this has left a bitter taste in the mouths of artists. According to the Artists the mandate of CIPA is not clear; it is not clear as to whether their interest lies in the Copyright Act and the law of Botswana or whether it has abdicated its role allowing others just to perpetuate what is perceived as corruption and embezzlement of funds.
However The Chief Executive officer of COSBOTS Thato Mokobi, however, vehemently denies any wrongdoing within the organisation and in respect of the fulfilment of its mandate. “In everything that I have done here in COSBOTS proper procedure was followed; that includes the building purchased, the cars and the CEO’s car,” he said.
According to Mokobi, there are members of COSBOTS who never attend meetings and they are the ones that are currently complaining about a whole lot of things including the royalties that have been paid to them. Artists have been complaining that they have been paid very little money compared to what they had expected. “The royalties that have been paid to artists has nothing to do with month of September when local songs enjoyed 100% airplay as they say. Some have come to our offices and we explained to them how it was paid but those that never came are the ones still complaining,” he said.
According to Mokobi, COSBOTS is currently not financially stable as the right now has Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) has not been paying them. Mokobi explains that as a result they are the ones paying  a lot of money for royalties.
He dismissed all the allegations directed at him and some of the fellow board members explaining that they are unfortunate and unfounded. He said he was aware of some of the promoters who are driving this whole issue of discrediting him and others  only others only because they do not want to pay. “This is an ongoing battle, there is group of people who just want to create commotion in COSBOTS and I can say they have succeeded in doing that” he said.
However Mokobi has indicated that out of principle that, if and when push comes to shove and the members of COSBOTS clearly say that they don’t want him in their office, he will gladly leave. “I will be pleased to leave this office while my integrity is still intact than fight because I don’t even know what we are fighting about. I will go to my family and leave all the stresses behind because deep down I know I have taken this office from nothing and worked hard to make it a success,”
The Further allegations against COSBOTS further also claim that Pearl Mahlala-the legal advisor at COSBOTS has been victimised and used as a scapegoat. Mahlala authored the legal opinion which exposed the misuse of funds and maladministration at COSBOTS. It was after the report that an investigation was instituted regarding the issues raised in the legal opinion which Mokobi confirms was done by the same Board members and a private legal practitioner. Mokobi refused to comment on whether he has suspended Mahlala or not but confirmed that the investigations were completed and a report was shared with the relevant people.
COSBOTS also has a pending court case with which former member Board member Bakalanga Mafoko who is alleged to have sued the company 1.2million for unfair dismissal, she won the case but COSBOTS has since appealed the case. The organisations recent difficulties have been further compounded by the departure of late Patrick Setsiba, the Treasurer at COSBOTS resigned from serving as the Treasure at COSBOTS and Mokobi confirmed his resignation but refused to reveal the reasons why he had to leave saying he will not discuss issues of staff as they are internal matters.
Artists have since resolved to seeking legal help at a meeting that they held on the 13th January 2017, Alfred Mosimanegape has told this publication. He revealed that the decision came after all the artists present at the meeting agreed that COSBOTS is not satisfying the mandate it was created for. He says COSBOTS continue to use money of only one sector who are the current members to purchase buildings and cars which is not fair as cosbots is made up of all sectors.
“we have realised that they are existing problems of maladministration and misuse of funds at COSBOTS and we have exhausted all ways possible to address the matter hence we are now taking the legal route,” he said
CIPA confirmed that they are aware of the issues at COSBOTS, “we can confirm that CIPA has received a complaint alleging possible maladministration and mismanagement of funds at the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS),” Awerness and Communications Manager Marietta Magashula said.
She went on to explain that COSBOTS is mandated to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of members – as such any possible maladministration or mismanagement of funds threatens the very livelihood and incomes of COSBOTS members, and any  such reports have to be taken seriously and approached with the utmost diligence.
“CIPA is engaging COSBOTS on the allegations. Due to the nature of the allegations, it is essential that we keep the process of engagement confidential until it is complete. CIPA will release a statement to COSBOTS members as well as the public upon completion of the process,” she said, also assuring all members of COSBOTS that CIPA remains committed not only           to the execution of its mandate in the supervision of COSBOTS, but also to the cordial relationship that they have had with members so far.

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