Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) Chief Executive Ezekiel Mutua has hit out at Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki for declining a request for a police escort.
Mutua fired off a series of tweets (now X posts) on Sunday blaming the poverty affecting Kenyan musicians on the Interior Ministry's directive, which made it difficult to enforce the copyrights of MCSK's clients.
At the beginning of October, Kindiki declined to reinstate police officers' escort to the Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) despite pleas by MCSK. The withdrawal was made in 2021.
"How can the Government say that it cares about music artists, yet allow their music to be exploited for free in clubs, matatu and other public service vehicles, broadcasting stations?" Mutua wondered.
"How can a whole CS for National Security say he won't provide police enforcement for copyright protection without an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)?"
He cited other sectors of governance including protecting lives, property, and land where police officers do not need MOUs to arrest perpetrators.
"Does this government really understand the music business? How do you expect music to thrive when cartels are exploiting musicians?" he questioned.
Appearing before a Parliamentary Committee in October, the CS explained that his Ministry was awaiting an MOU to be signed that clearly explained the officers' roles in the enforcement.
He further noted that the withdrawal was aimed at protecting the National Police Service.
"The withdrawal of Police escort from the CMOs in 2020 was a decision made by the National Police Service to protect its image and informed by several complaints from members of the public among them, extortion by CMOs after making arrests, failure by the organisations to present arrested persons before courts and failure to present themselves as witnesses following arrests," he stated.
"A Multi-agency operation should be preceded by a clear operational order that includes assigning responsibility to an officer in charge to enhance accountability."
In his latest rant, Mutua argued that in other democracies, musicians ranked along with athletes and politicians among the wealthiest individuals but enforcement was holding back talented Kenyans from reaping their benefits.
"In more progressive democracies, musicians are among the richest people. They rank up there with top sportsmen and athletes in raking money from their work," he explained.
"This is also the sector with a huge potential for creating jobs. With so many radio stations, including vernacular, and a robust ICT infrastructure, our youthful and creative artists can make a lot of money from music if the government collaborates with CMOs."
In Kenya, musicians have complained of low incomes from their works with some receiving as little as Ksh1,000 as a year's royalties for their works.