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The Chronicle

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Stephen Mpofu, Perspective

Yes, curiosa plus – but book pirates in this country hug themselves with glee as they smile all the way to their banks while, on the other hand, authors who burn the midnight oil creating intellectual treasure for others but with no book royalties paid by the copycats and publishers who fork out cash to produce books but cannot recoup costs due to the piracy scandal that rears its ugly head in many towns.

It becomes clear, therefore, from part of this discourse above that the lot of producers particularly of school textbooks which are automatically in great demand across the nation is a very difficult one under the circumstances of pirates reaping hugely where they did not sow in the first place, as it were.

In Bulawayo, for instance, customers form a snaking queue in front of a photocopying shop as they wait to be served orders of photocopied books, particularly school texts being photocopied behind closed doors, while elsewhere vendors flog away photocopied books in most cases at half the retail prices for original books in shops, making a killing, as it were because of the high demand for the prescribed tutorial material which students must possess to proceed comfortably with their learning.

A book by a journalist who preferred anonymity at this point in time, and was this year prescribed for O-level students is being sold on the streets for US$5 against the retail price of US$10 in shops, according to a Harare-based publishing house which put out the book in point.

A Chronicle photographer who came across the snaking queues in front of a photocopying facility was asked by a man reproducing the books on inferior quality paper to delete pictures taken at the scene of the photocopying scandal, the order, suggesting to anyone that the man in question knew that the entire scenario at the facility in question was illegal.

As things stand right now, it appears clear from complaints by authors and publishers that the vending of copyrighted material, in this case books, is illegal and that, ironically, it takes place under the very nose of the police.

However Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Nyathi said two days ago that an anti-book piracy body representing publishers should lodge any complaints about book copying scandal to the police commissioner general for the law enforcement agents to crack down on the criminals involved in feasting on other people’s sweat, and in that way, instead of dealing with individual complaints, law enforcement agents would spread the net widely to catch the culprits in question.

As things stand, therefore, the ball remains in the court of publishers anti-piracy representative body to act accordingly in order for the book pirating scandal to be rooted out once and for all.

Meanwhile, the good news, according to Assistant Commissioner Nyathi, is that port health operatives — the people who ensure that health regulations are complied with at entry and exit points – had assured authorities that “everything was under control” with people entering or leaving the country being subjected to checks for Covid-19 as well as for other diseases. 

Reports of a new Covid-19 variant in other countries had raised fears among Government authorities that people in Bulawayo, the arrival city for people from countries elsewhere in southern Africa might be the first to be infected with imported dangerous viruses for these to be widely spread across the country.  

But be that as it may, Zimbabweans must still religiously comply with World Health Organisation regulations as also enforced by our Government to protect everyone’s health.

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