BY GEOFFREY ISAYA
The Government will move the Kenya Copyright Board from the Office of the Attorney General to the Ministry of ICT as part of measures to protect musicians from exploitation. Uhuru
The announcement was made by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he led thousands of mourners in sending off Benga music icon, John Mwangi Ng’ang’a well known as John De’Mathew in Gatanga, Murang’a County on Saturday.
The announcement on copyright board is part of several measures the President revealed that are aimed at protecting the rights of artistes.
The President said the right home ministry for the copyright board is ICT because that is where it can have the ability to monitor broadcasters, telecoms and other entities that use productions by artistes.
He said the Ministry of ICT is under firm instructions to ensure that artistes get their dues such as royalties.
“I have instructed the ICT Ministry to ensure that before renewal of licenses for broadcasters and telecoms they must pay what they owe artistes,” said the President when he spoke at the funeral service of the late musician held at Githambia Primary School grounds in Muranga County.
He said broadcasters and telecoms should pay for music they play because they are using it to make money.
The President who was accompanied by Deputy President Dr William Ruto said he has also instructed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe organisations that collect money on behalf of musicians to see if they are embezzling what they collect.
“The music industry has a problem that needs to be fixed. Recently we were told that an organisation collected around Ksh.200 million on behalf of musicians and then claimed that they spent 60 percent of that money as expenses for the collection,” said the President.
He also encouraged Members of Parliament to push through an amendment to the copyright laws that is pending in parliament and which is aimed at protecting the interests of artistes.
President Kenyatta said De’Mathew was his personal friend who loved peace and who liked to unite people and not to divide them.
In the late musician’s honour and to support upcoming talented artistes, the President announced that the government will set up a Ksh.10 million studio at Kirwarwa within Gatanga Constituency.
DP Ruto said De’Mathew has been a prominent champion of the interests of musicians especially through Tamko Sacco where he was chairman. The Sacco was established so as to support local musicians to save and access loans for their collective and individual prosperity.
Dr Ruto assured Tamko Sacco members of government’s support in completing a commercial building the group plans to construct at their parcel of land in Kenol town off Thika-Nyeri highway.
The funeral was attended by several Cabinet Secretaries including James Macharia (Transport), Amina Mohamed (Sports), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).
Local leaders led by Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Senator Irungu Kangata and County Woman MP Sabina Chege said De’Mathew was more than just a prominent musician to the people of Muranga.
Governor wa Iria said De’Mathew was considered to be a seer or prophet by locals and many things he predicted came to pass.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and her Nakuru counterpart Lee Kinyanjui were among those who attended the funeral service.