Piracy stalls Mapfumo's new releases

HARARE - Self-exiled Chimurenga star Thomas Mapfumo is withholding the release of new albums due to rampant music piracy in Zimbabwe.

Mapfumo, who held talks this week with giant South African record company Sheer Music on the possibility of releasing new material, believes piracy has made him develop cold feet.

“There is so much piracy in Zimbabwe — recording new music in such an environment doesn’t make business sense anymore,” said the Lion of Zimbabwe, as Mapfumo is popularly known by his fans.

“Sheer Music is keen to release a CD from us but we know that once it is released in South Africa the music pirates in Zimbabwe will quickly take our music by illegal means to the streets of Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwean musicians are suffering. How can people be allowed to sell pirated music on the streets while the police turn a blind eye?

The Chimurenga guru added he would like to be part of the fight against powerful Zimbabwean pirates.

“I would like to talk to minister Shamu (Webster) on the matter because it is clear the pirates have support from some very powerful people. I am reliably informed the pirates operate from Mbare Musika. The pirated CDs are even better than the ones from Zimbabwean music companies. Everybody knows where they are and how well-resourced they are but for some reason nobody wants to take action.”

Mapfumo believes Zimbabwe needs lessons from other countries which have successfully tackled music piracy.

“For example American laws are much more punitive and because of that musicians enjoy benefits of their music. Zimbabwe needs to take the same direction. Anyone found selling pirated music whether local or foreign should be sent to prison because they are attacking the livelihoods of helpless musicians”.

Mapfumo’s manager Cuthbert Chiromo claimed in a separate interview the old song master has enough material for eight albums.

“Mukanya has been recording a lot of material in America at great cost. The studios there are not cheap that is why Mukanya is reluctant to release new stuff in such an environment,” said Chiromo.

“Many Zimbabwean musicians are also deliberately holding back new releases and who can really blame them?”. - Dakarai Mashava, Entertainment Editor

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