‘Monyame refuses to relinquish power’

  • - Radio Botswana, Duma FM refuse to pay local artists royalties
  • - COSBOTS Board defends award of tender to Chairperson
  • - COSBOTS Board tenure extended unprocedurally

 Aggrieved members of the Copyright Society of Botswana(COSBOTS) are complaining that the embattled COSBOTS Chairperson Solomon Monyame who has served at helm of the organization for 8 years should do the 'honourable thing' and step down 'voluntarily' from the helm arguing he has continued to hold onto power after his tenure in office had expired in November 2016.

Monyame who was elected into office for a consecutive 3 year term on the 2nd November 2013, tenure in office has lapsed on 2nd November 2016. Monyame also faces allegations of possible conflict of interest over the employment of his company OnQuest to conduct monitoring services for COSBOTS, amidst concerns over possible maladministration and poor corporate governance at the organizations secretariat. The contract for OnQuest is for 3 years and expires in February 2017.

"COSBOTS has a tendency of extending tenure of Board members unprocedurally. Their term of office has already expired and we simply do not understand why in a voluntary organization such as COSBOTS, Monyame who has been the Chairman for 8 years should refuse to relinquish Chairmanship," said Alfredo Mosimanegape, Spokesperson for a group of Concerned COSBOTS members.

He said, "The fact of the matter is that Monyame is the ultimate boss at COSBOTS. If you look at the terms of reference of the Tender which was won by his company OnQuest, it is stipulated that the winning tender will report to the Chairperson. There is therefore a clear conflict of interest in tender being awarded to OnQuest. Nowhere does the tender state if Chairperson wins tender he will lose some of his supervisory powers. If COSBOTS is now saying that the tender is supervised by the CEO, the question is because the CEO is a subordinate of the Chairperson, who has a vested interest in the tender awarded how is the Chairperson being supervised."

COSBOTS was also failing to give its members comprehensive statements from OnQuest on monitoring of local music saying where songs were played, what time, which radio station and how many times songs were played. They were just being given payment vouchers.

Members feel money generated through users of music has also been wrongly used to buy vehicles and buildings without appropriate membership authorization.

"This is an organization that is membership driven. Major decisions are approved by the Annual General Meeting. That is why they cannot employ auditors without our sanction or employ personnel at the secretariat without membership approval," said Alfredo Mosimanegape, Spokesperson for aggrieved COSBOTS members.

He said, "The Chief Executive Officer(CEO) can only approve budgets of up to P50,000.00. If the Procurement and Disposal Committee is made up of only Board members and no outside people, there is clearly something wrong. We need to know who these people are on this Committee. That is why we believe there is a lot maladministration at COSBOTS."

COSBOTS is constituted by different sectors including visual arts, film and recording music but it is only recorded music that is being invited to meetings. "It means music sector is making decisions for all the sectors. It is running unconstitutionally," fumed Mosimanigappe.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture issued a directive in 2015 during BOT 50 celebrations that radio stations should play 100% local music. Royalties paid in December 2016 amounted to P2.8million covering the period from 1st October 2015 to 31st March 2016. It is alleged it is high expectations of revenue generation is precipitating member discontent.

"The Board has a feeling that people were being misinformed and that a concerned group was causing the misinformation. It appears that artists feel that they were not paid correct royalties for local music played during Bot 50 Celebrations during September last year," said Thato Mokobi, Chief Executive Officer of COSBOTS.

He said, "Royalties for the period including the BOT 50 Celebrations have not been paid. Our greatest challenge is enforcing compliance with law and regulatory guidelines."

Radio Botswana and Duma FM were reportedly not honoring royalty payments for playing local music but retail outlets, hotels were fully complaint.

The COSBOTS has revealed a due diligence investigation conducted by local Attorneys and a Consultant cleared OnQuest of allegations of impropriety and dismissed allegations raised by COSBOTS Legal Services Officer Ms Pearl Mahlala, delivered at special General meeting of COSBOTS Board on the 4th August 2016 questioning award of tender to OnQuest, who she contends is being paid a ridiculous amount. The due diligence report provided to the local media fraternity does not provide specifics on the amount of money made by OnQuest. It just says that they are happy with the services provided by OnQuest.

Mahlala also complained OnQuest is not adding value and questioned spending behaviour of secretariat.

"Further more management continues spend more than it is distributing(ie. more than the 30% provision made for Admin fees/costs. This is wrong doing and raises suspicion of mismanagement of funds."

COSBOTS management contends a major reason for anomaly has been the failure of the largest user of protected works, Department of Broadcasting Services(DBS), to pay the sums invoiced. This has put pressure upon the 30% target for administrative costs. COSBOTS also defended the use of membership funds to purchase COSBOTS building using deposit of P1,153,000.00 with the rest being paid out of a loan facility amortized over 10 years. It also defended acquisition of vehicle for CEO amounting to P430,000.00.

"The Board finds that the vehicle is registered in the name of the Society, forming part of the Society's assets and therefore funds no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the CEO."

COSBOTS whose membership totals 1280, is also likely to be further aggrieved the costs of engaging the attorney to conduct due diligence and corporate government assessment cost P107,800 but the sitting allowances for COSBOTS Board for overseeing process generated P117,672.35 for COSBOTS Board Members. Ironically, COSBOTS Board members have generated more money as a group than the organizations engaged to conduct due diligence exercise.

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