Malawi’s secular musician Lawrence Mbenjere has dragged Lilongwe Music Centre manager Taka Bwanali to court for failing to pay a K100 000 (about $303) fine for breach of contract.
Mbenjere signed an agreement with the distributor in February 2012 to distribute some copies of his Mbenjere Meter DVD collection.
However, Mbenjere, who was also selling the DVD through other selling points in Lilongwe, smelled a rat and decided to check copies on the market.
“I suspected that something was wrong because my sales dropped upon signing an agreement with the distributor. I went to the market to check if all the copies on the market were real.
“I got copies bearing Copyright Society of Malawi [Cosoma] stamps, but with numbers exceeding those I had bought from Cosoma. Then I knew that someone was tricking me. I took Bwanali to task and he revealed while at Cosoma offices that he used stickers obtained from another distributor [name withheld],” says Mbenjere.
With the help of Cosoma, the two sides resolved that the distributor pay Mbenjere K100 000 as a fine for breaching the contract.
According to Mbenjere, 11 months down the line, Bwanali has not paid the money. The musician has since taken the matter to court.
“I have been patient enough and I cannot wait any longer. I went to the court on Friday through my lawyer and the court has summoned Bwanali to pay the cash or defend my application within 14 days,” said the artist.
In a phone interview, Bwanali admitted having been summoned.
“I got the court summon over the weekend and I am…surprised with the action taken by Mbenjere. We agreed everything and I paid the money. I do not know what they want from me,” he said.
Bwanali further alleged that Mbenjere confiscated his machines and left them at Cosoma.
On wrong stickers, Bwanali said it is his children who stamped them on Mbenjere DVDs when he was out of the country.
“The wrong stickers were not stamped by design. It was a mistake by my children and I apologised,” he says.
Bwanali says he will take an action after meeting Cosoma officials this week.