Ezekiel Mutua appointed Music Copyright Society of Kenya CEO

Original article written by Peter Choge

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has announced the appointment of Dr Ezekiel Mutua as its new CEO.

In a statement issued today, MCSK board chairman Lazarus Muli said Mutua’s tenure had begun officially on 25 March following rigorous competitive interviews in which he emerged as the top candidate.

Ezekiel Mutua served as the CEO of the Kenya Films and Classification Board (KFCB) from 2015 to 2021, where he earned admiration from a pious public but made enemies of vexed creatives for his attempt to define what they could or could not produce.

He was relieved of his duties in August 2021 after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission instated investigations into allegations that Mutua and a board member received irregular allowances and salaries from the organisation. However, no charges have been preferred against him yet. 

His tenure at the KFCB was marked by controversy, with many players in the creative sector accusing him of overstepping his mandate by censoring works that did not conform to his personal beliefs.

In April 2018, he made news when he banned the screening of Kenyan film Rafiki due to its homosexual themes. That same year, Mutua was accused by the producers of Watu Wote: All of Us of illegally screening the movie in Las Vegas and taking credit for its production. The German-Kenyan film, created by Hamburg Media School, received an Oscar nomination in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

The MCSK, which is Kenya’s oldest collective management organisation established in 1983, itself is not new to controversy and has been embroiled in well-documented disputes with musicians who accuse its management of embezzlement of the royalties it collects on their behalf.

In December 2020, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) stopped the MCSK from collecting royalties after the organisation failed to submit an authenticated list of its members and their works to the National Rights Registry database.

KECOBO later lifted the ban and allowed the MCSK to continue collecting royalties under a general collection licence with the Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performance Rights Society of Kenya.

Mutua wrote on social media Monday: “I have received with profound gratitude my appointment to the position of chief executive officer of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya. Happy to rejoin the creative industry, this time not as a regulator, but as a promoter and defender of the rights of musicians.

“I look forward to working with the board and relevant industry stakeholders to reinvigorate the music industry and make Kenyan music profitable through effective and efficient collection and distribution of royalties, by fighting piracy and promoting the rights of musicians 

“The industry has great potential to create jobs and wealth for our artists. I pledge to work with all musicians in the country to raise the quality and profitability of our music.”

Many Kenyans have also welcomed the development, with one social media commenter saying that Mutua has “the energy for the job“.

Mutua holds a PhD in communication studies from Moi University, a master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Nairobi and a BA in sociology and linguistics from Kenyatta University.

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