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Libya owes me R39m, says praise singer

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Praise singer Zolani Mkiva, with President Jacob Zuma in the background, at the ANCs 99th anniversary celebration in Limpopo. Mkiva says the Libyan government owes him money for his Malik Muluk music project for the late Muammar Gaddafi. File photo by Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - Praise singer and poet Zolani Mkiva wants to sue the National Transitional Council of Libya for more than R39 million for a CD and music videos commissioned by the late Muammar Gaddafi.

Mkiva, who rose to fame as Nelson Mandela’s praise singer (imbongi), wants to attach shares in the Legacy Hotels and Resorts group as payment.

In an affidavit, Mkiva explained that the Libyan Arab African Investments Company is the 100 percent shareholder of Ensemble Hotel Holdings, which in turn has shares in the Legacy Hotels and Resorts group.

Legacy owns several high-end hotels and lodges, including the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton.

However, Mkiva has not overcome the first hurdle of proving that the government of Libya owns a stake in the hotel group.

As a result, the case was dismissed at the Pretoria High Court last week.

Mkiva’s lawyer, Bernie Meyer, said the praise singer had not abandoned the claim.

“Me and my client are still discussing the case. We need to figure out what the next step is,” he said.

Meyer said he needed to “make a connection” between the shareholders of the Libyan Arab African Investment Company, which has shares in the Legacy Hotel group, and the government.

Speaking to The Sunday Independent on Friday, Mkiva said he did not blame Gaddafi because he “died knowing that he said I must be paid. It was the officials who delayed.”

Mkiva said the songs were recorded in English, Arabic, Swahili, French, Portuguese and Xhosa.

“I flew people from abroad to come and work with me. It was all at my own expense. I rented studios at my own expense,” he said.

Mkiva said he had previously worked on an album titled Brother Leader for Gaddafi. He had been introduced to the Libyan leader by Mandela, whose grandson Zondwa’s second name is Gaddafi.

“I was invited annually to go to Libya. I also went to perform there as a professional artist and my videos always played in Libya… I was like a citizen of Libya. Whenever I went there, I had a place.”

In an affidavit, Mkiva said Gaddafi personally commissioned the album on May 9, 2009. “During the meeting Colonel Gaddafi requested me to write and produce two songs and produce them into a musical album for the state of Libya,” he said.

The album had to be completed by the end of 2010, along with music videos.

Mkiva said Gaddafi agreed to an initial payment of $700 000 (R6m) upon completion of the albums, and the full amount of $4.5m (R39m) would be paid after the music videos were completed.

The copyright and royalties would belong to the Libyan government,” Mkiva says in the affidavit.

“The amount of R39m would be inclusive of the composition, production and cession of copyright and royalties that would accrue from airplay and other commercial benefits.”

Mkiva says he had another meeting with Gaddafi in Tripoli in January last year, where the project was discussed. The album is titled Malik Muluk and features a song of the same title, a second track called the United States of Africa and the anthem of the AU.

“The presentation took place at his official residence in Tripoli… Colonel Gaddafi indicated he was more than satisfied with the works.”

Mkiva said an official by the name of Rafa al Madina was told to pay the initial R6m.

“I accepted that the money would be transferred into my account as was done on a previous occasion for work that I did for the Libyan government,” Mkiva said.

But Mkiva did not receive any response to mails sent between February and May last year, at which point he had reduced his request to R3.9m. He said he excluded marketing and promotion fees that could be resolved at a later stage.

“I have committed a lot of my assets as collateral in this Malik Muluk project, both for CD and DVD,” he said in an e-mail sent on February 15 last year.

In March 2011, Mkiva wrote that he was “sensitive to what is taking place in Libya”.

“I am sure you know that our support is unequivocal for you to overcome these challenges.

“This is the perfect time to promote the songs and play the videos on the internet.”

Gaddafi was killed in October last year after Libya descended into civil war. In November 2011, Mkiva got legal advice and demanded payment from the Libyan embassy in Pretoria.

However, the embassy’s lawyers wrote back denying any liability and invoking diplomatic immunity.

Libyan ambassador Dr Abdella A al-Zubedi was not available for comment on Friday.

Lawyers for the embassy have yet to respond.

Sunday Independent


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