He based this claim on the fact that the message they wanted to convey has come out and was received. He is also pleased because their members showed one united stance, with regards to their feelings and what they are bitter with.
This is why when the ‘Daily News’ caught-up with him at the National Arts Council, BASATA on Monday he talked about being confident that members of the general public should now fully understand their grievances, so will be able to see that they are grounded in reality, which gives them a right to be heard. “Now people will understand that what we are claiming is simply our rights.
They have an idea now of what we have gone through in the past, which has brought us to the point of deciding to embark on our current actions. They will see that there is an issue of responsibility here and that a lot of our efforts to follow the laid down steps have been ignored by those who are supposed to attend to them,” Mwakifwamba said.
Throughout his 15-minute presentation at the Arts Council and the small talk with the ‘Daily News’ after this, he remained firm and confident when defending TAFF’s request for the removal of the Executive Secretary of the Film Censorship Board, Joyce Fisoo and the Copyright Society of Tanzania’s (COSOTA) Executive Officer, Yustus Mkinga.
This, he maintains steams from their position of strength, which is not based on any mischievous intentions but simply the unfair treatment the industry has been getting. “We have strength. This is not strength in weapons but strength in argument, outlook, ideas and our financial benefits. So together like this, there is no reason why we should be afraid to claim for our rights.
Apart from being artistes we are Tanzanians, who have chosen the government to lead us and in so doing help us become artistes to be respected. We have a right here, where we are not being treated fairly so it is here that we have to make our feelings known,” he added. Throughout his presentations on Friday, Sunday and Monday - Mwakifwamba continually referred to himself as being an activist within the film industry.
The ‘Daily News,’ took him up on this point on Monday. He replied that his entire attention is being geared towards getting the industry to stand firm, so that by the end of the day, not only are they producing worthwhile treasured films but that their members get a fair financial rewards for their labours and talent.
According to him, TAFF members have been contributing to the Gross Domestic product (GDP) for quite sometime and not just recently, as is often proposed. It seems that their contribution was not being reported, as it should have been, which is directly connected to the actions of those entrusted with these responsibilities.
One of their main complaints is that one person in the industry has to deal with a long line of payments, which goes directly to the government. When a producer, who is also an actor or performs other functions within a particular film production, goes to register their company they have to part with 300,000/- to the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA). This money goes directly to the Treasury.
From here this person has to be given permission to operate as an artist from the Arts Council, which involves a fee of 200,000/-, again to the government. After this, the same person has to part with another 15,000/- to register with COSOTA. Next is the National Board of Film Censors, where there are three payments to be made.
The first is to verify the script for 60,000/- an hour. After this is getting a filming permit for 500,000/- followed by vetting the finished product for 60,000/-. This gives a total of 620,000/-. Then this same person still has to deal with more payments at the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
Mwakifwamba challenges anyone to name another line of business, which has to pay so much money before even producing a product. “Our cry is to take all of this long line of payments on one person away and let them make all payments to the TRA. This way our payments can be seen by all clearly. Why is it that we are expected to be paying on production and not product?
This is not fair,” he complains. Another person spoken to last Sunday, with regards to this issue was Simon Mwakagata a.k.a ‘Rado’. The all-rounder’s last production to reach the market is a film called ‘Madu’, which came out late last year. Although someone else directed it, he was responsible for writing the script and acting in it.
He says the film laws that were made back in the 1970s have been out-dated by the large insteps that have been made in the local film industry since then. This alone is one reason why these laws should be changed. He further complained bitterly about the current fees not being reflective of the financial situation within the local industry and official bodies such as COSOTA and the board should be directing their attention towards redressing the piracy situation that is holding back real growth made in the industry, while denying artistes more of the wealth they are creating from their talents, perspiration and efforts.
As a Tanzanian, the up-coming scriptwriter and director, Kherry Mondoma, has no objections to paying taxes. However, what seems to be troubling him is that he cannot see what he is getting in return for these financial contributions. He sees all of this as a sure sign that it is due to a breakdown of the roles, for as a taxpayer he becomes a client of the government and as such he deserves certain services in return.
The problem, he added exists because after having made his contributions, he ends up waiting in vain for the services. With reference to the ineffectiveness of COSOTA, he simply referred to them as being completely dormant over their years in operation. He finds it hard to understand why it is that bodies such as this cannot give more of its attention to following-up on distributors, where a lot of foul-play is going unchecked.
At Sunday’s meeting, the TAFF Chairman, Mike Sangu, reminded their members that their Executive Secretary, Wilson Makubi, had written to the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports last August 7, requesting for certain corrections to be done to the then proposed laws governing local films and drama.
In that letter TAFF had explained the reasons for this request and their subsequent arguments for opposing it, as it stood. Not having received any response last December 12, Makubi wrote again to the Minister, requesting information in regards to when their requests for these corrections is likely to be made.
He also wanted to know what procedures were going to be used in the execution of these laws. Again, to date they have not received any reply from the ministry.