With or without sufficient funding from treasury, the new Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Makhosini Hlongwane has promised to leave no stone unturned in pursuit for arts excellence in the country.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
There have been calls by stakeholders in the sector suggesting a stand-alone Arts and Culture ministry. The general sentiment has been that combined portfolios caused less attention to be paid to a potentially lucrative industry.
Addressing journalists on Thursday at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NacZ) offices, where he engaged the regulator, the minister pledged to restore the creative industry.
“We now preside over Sports Recreation, Arts and Culture. We have no reason to do well in sports at the expense of other sectors of our portfolio and mandate,” he said.
“I have a very energetic team that I work with and I am a pusher myself, so I have no reason to think that we are going to do any less as far as arts and culture is concerned.”
Hlongwane, who described himself as “a developmental state activist” who believes in “not limiting ourselves to the absence of money”, said artists should not be discouraged by the past.
“The artists should not despair. We are here and this mandate has been given to us. We will try to do justice to it in this and give equal attention to the arts sector as we are giving to the sports sector,” he said.
“I think that in our tools’ box, there are a lot of things we can use around implementation of programmes in the absence of full funding from the treasury given the contextual realities of the economy.
“We are not saying we will be able to do everything but certainly that is why we are there. We are there to make sure that we protect and assist the artist.”
Local artists have suffered mainly due to piracy of their work, side marketing and lack of strong legislative protection of their intellectual property.
NacZ director Elvas Mari, who hailed the ministry’s first official visit, also called for an urgent repeal of the National Arts Council Act whose provisions he said had been overtaken by the changing times.
“There is need for urgent repeal and if you ask me, it should have been repealed as soon as yesterday but all we are saying is things have changed and we are now at a stage where it is inescapable,” said Mari, adding that amendments to the current one would be as good as redrafting it.