Revive Zim's acting industry

HARARE - Former Big Brother Africa (BBA) housemate, Maneta Mazanhi’s new role on the popular South African soapie Isidingo has predictably generated a lot of excitement in Zimbabwe.

While Zimbabweans have every right to celebrate the success of one of their own, we should also, rather ironically, view this as an indictment of Zimbabwe’s retrogressing acting industry.

The collapse of local soapies like Studio 263 and Estate Blues has limited acting opportunities for Zimbabweans forcing the former BBA housemate and other popular actors like the United States of America-based Arnold Chirisa as well as Leroy Gopal and Chunky Phiri, who are both based in South Africa, to venture beyond our country’s borders.

The state of affairs in the Zimbabwean acting and television sectors, which is characterised by lack of funding, doesn’t look rosy at all.

Recently Zimbabweans were overjoyed by the news that Zimbabwe’s first soapie, Studio 263, was planning a comeback.

This happiness and optimism, however, proved premature. Joe Mawuru, who has been leading efforts to revive Studio 263, told this paper that efforts to revive the soapie had suffered a stillbirth due to lack of funding.

Joe, the son of Studio 263 founding executive director Godwin Mawuru, revealed that they had failed in their efforts to source at least $15 000 that would enable them to make 30 episodes of the popular soapie.

Studio 263 is not the only series battling to secure funds in an effort to engineer a comeback. Veteran author and playwright Aaron Chiundura Moyo also told this paper that he was failing to secure the necessary funds to ensure the return of Tiriparwendo.

The return of Studio 263 and Tiriparwendo, which will create many opportunities for unemployed Zimbabwean actors, has been made difficult by the failure by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to pay for plays and series that it has commissioned.

Regrettably, the ZBC is currently in very bad state. Many Zimbabweans are cautiously hopeful that media, information and broadcasting services minister Jonathan Moyo’s crusade to bring sanity to scandal-ridden ZBC will for once bear fruit.

Moyo has no excuse to delay unveiling a turnaround strategy for the national broadcaster since the critical ZBC audit conducted by KPMG is now done and dusted.

Viability of television series and soapies can only happen on a sustainable level in Zimbabwe if the national broadcaster is run professionally by people with the right skills and not people appointed on the basis of political patronage.

 

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