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Mungoshi family, College Press at loggerheads

19 Nov 2013

Reprinted from NewsDay-Multiple award–winning novelist Charles Muzuva Mungoshi’s family has accused College Press Publishers of attempting to cash in on his works when they had not been remitting royalties from sales of his Shona novel, Makunun’unu Maodza Moyo.

The author’s wife, Jesesi Mungoshi, told NewsDay that College Press have now renewed their interest in re-printing the book after it was recently selected as an O-Level setbook.

The book, which is the only one among the author’s novels published by College Press, was first published in 1970 and the family claims that the contract has never been reviewed to date.

Jesesi said the publishing company has failed to furnish them with a copy of the publishing contract despite their repeated requests.

Mungoshi, who is still on a recovery path after falling into a coma in 2010, would have pressed for his dues if he was still in good health, according to his wife.

“Charles is one person who could have helped things, but he has been ill for some time after he went into a coma in 2010 and has never fully recovered,” said Jesesi.

The matter came to light after Jesesi had approached the publisher early this year enquiring about royalties from the book and why it was no longer available in bookshops.

“They told me that they don’t have any royalties since the book is not being printed because it was not in demand. They said they stopped printing the book in 1997,” said Jesesi.

She said they were disturbed by College Press’ renewed interest in printing copies of the book because it has been selected as a setbook and could be a cash cow for the publisher.

Mungoshi’s lawyer Fanuel Nyamayaro described College Press as “arrogant” after the publisher had allegedly refused to engage him and stressed they were only prepared to deal with Mungoshi when they knew his health was failing.

“How can they say they want to talk with Charles in person when they know too well that he is very ill, yet they have not been remitting royalties since 1997 and there have been no statement of account,” said Nyamayaro.

The lawyer has since advised the Mungoshi family to print the book in a move that is likely to see them lock horns with the publisher.
College Press managing director Benny Mugabe said the book was never out of stock, but booksellers had not been placing orders due to the economic crunch.

“The book was never out of stock, but booksellers were not ordering it from our warehouse,” said Mugabe.

Mungoshi has published several award-winning novels and plays in both English and Shona since the 1970s. These include Waiting for the Rain, Walking Still, Coming of the Dry Season, Kunyarara Hakusi kutaura? Inongova Njakenjake and Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva.