Scores of South African artists, authors and publishers have staged a picket outside the American Embassy in Pretoria on Monday to protest what they say is pressure the US is putting on South Africa not to sign the Copyright Amendment Bill.

The protesters are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the bill that allows them to earn royalty rights and other essential benefits.

Washington has been delaying the conclusion of the benefits review of the Generalised System of Preferences which is in favour of South Africa and the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

One of the protest organisers, David Lydall from an organisation called ‘Recreative’, says the bill will empower South Africans to have the same rights as that of actors, performers and creatives like in America.

“We are here protesting this Bill because it will empower our people and South Africans, give rights to compete internationally, to have the same rights as that of actors, performers and creatives like in America. It’s a colonial to deny us having these rights. We are here to condemn the embassy to disassociate itself from that organisation that denies us our rights, like their copyrights proxies and in the review, earning uncertainty in our favour.”

Renowned actor Smangaliso Ngema is among the protesters and hopes that their action will bear results.

“I hope that it will make a difference as you know that we’ve praying and praying that the President signs this bill into law. What bolt most is that if I do not fight, this means even my children who are actors will still be doing the same in ten or so. So this is the war we must win now the sake of our children.”