Msholozi hit by music pirates

More than 100 000 copies of a CD containing a song about Jacob Zuma have been sold legally, and more have been pirated, music-industry insiders said on Thursday.

Eric Majola, promoter of the band Izingane Zoma, said the pirating of the popular album, with the catchy Msholozi title track, is “really bad”. He believes sales would have doubled if it were not for the piracy.

Despite a lack of airtime on the national broadcaster, the album has achieved double-platinum status with more than 100 000 copies sold, Gallo Records said on Thursday.

The song Msholozi, which is about a plot to block African National Congress deputy president Jacob Zuma from becoming president, was taken off the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) Ukhozi FM playlist earlier this year.

The decision to pull it from the airwaves was criticised by several African National Congress-aligned groups, including the Congress of South African Students, the ANC Youth League and the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the Congress of South African Trade Unions. In February they released a statement accusing the SABC of “censorship”.

Msholozi is Zuma’s clan name.

The marketing manager of the Izangane Zoma Record Company, Linda Sabelo, said: “It [piracy] is a big problem.
We would have sold very much more if it wasn’t for piracy.”

Majola said he has seen copies of the CD on sale in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. His attempts to remove pirated CDs from vendors at Durban’s railway station have landed him in hot water with the authorities, who said his actions were illegal.

While none of the proceeds from sales go towards helping Zuma, Izingane Zoma donate half the proceeds of their concerts held around the country towards Zuma’s legal fees.

Braam Schoeman, manager of the anti-piracy enforcement unit of the Recording Industry of South Africa, said it is very difficult to determine the effect of piracy on the sales of a particular album. A conservative estimate of the loss to the recording industry is more than R500-million, he said.

In the past week a number of raids have been conducted in KwaZulu-Natal, but an inventory of the pirated recordings has not yet been compiled. He could not confirm whether pirated versions of Msholozi were seized in the raids.

Zuma told the Sowetan newspaper last March that he had a copy of the CD, but that he thought “there is nothing extraordinary [about the song]”.

In rural Nkandla last month, Zuma said the group had donated a “vast sum of money from the sales of a hit song”. Although he did not disclose how much had been donated, he said that it had been sufficient to pay the costs of his rape trial, at which he was found not guilty.

The song was repeatedly played at the South African Communist Party’s 85th anniversary rally last Sunday, and in front of the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday—much to the delight of Zuma supporters.

Izingane Zoma usually play music in the traditional maskanda style. The band started in 1993, and have had platinum albums before, but not as fast-selling as this one.

Some non-SABC radio stations, including Khaya FM in Johannesburg, have played the song.—Sapa

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