19 February 2016

Tanzania: Magufuli Steps in War Against Piracy

As the country struggles with cheap imports and substandard locally produced digital video discs (DVDs) and compact discs (CDs), President John Magufuli has directed the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), to conduct a clean-up campaign to remove the products from the market.

President Magufuli wants authorities to allow only products bearing TRA stickers at vending shops and by so doing, the Treasury coffers will receive its fair share of revenues, while artistes on the other hand, will be able to reap requisite profits from the lucrative and budding industry.

He directed the crackdown in Dar es Salaam yesterday, in his response to pleas from local artistes in 'bongo flavour' and 'bongo movie' industry, who complained that cheap imports as well as products not marked by the tax collector were driving them out of the market.

"We should bring to your attention Mr President that these imports are hurting us to the extreme but TRA has not been doing enough to flush them out," Hamis Mwinjuma, popularly known as Mwana FA, complained to the president.

In response, Magufuli said he was irked that local artistes were not reaping as much as required from the industry compared to their counterparts in the West.

"You are endowed with talents which ought to benefit you and not other people. I thus direct TRA to conduct a special operation to identify and flush out of the market all CDs and DVDs without stickers," Magufuli remarked.

The Head of State was speaking during a party he hosted at the State House yesterday for journalists, local artistes in addition to Information Technology (IT) specialists and other stakeholders who were in his campaign team prior to the General Election last year.

President Magufuli revealed as well that he had appointed Nape Nnauye as the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, due to the fact that the latter was close to players in the industry and understood its challenges.

Magufuli went on to direct the minister to write to the President's Office on the transfer of the Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to Nnauye's information, Culture, Arts and Sports ministry.

Artistes at the event expressed concerns as well that by placing COSOTA under the industry and trade docket, makes it hard for them to engage the ministry in issues pertaining to royalty.

"As the minister, just write to my office and if I find out that it can be done within my mandate, I will do it; otherwise if there are some legal issues it can be brought up before the cabinet for further actions," the president said amid cheers from the crowd.

Earlier, Nnauye told the audience that since the copyright society was in another ministry it makes him unable to effectively make decisions to safeguard interests of artistes.

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