Theatre body lays out vision

BULAWAYO - Mgcini Nyoni, the just-appointed national coordinator for the Zimbabwe Theatre Association (Zita), says his organisation has failed to achieve some of its targets due to lack of resources.

Nyoni, a theatre director who is also a successful photographer, poet and playwright, told the Daily News that the criticism of Zita has continually been blown out of proportion since it was formed in 2008.

  “The majority of people believe the Zimbabwe Theatre Association failed to deliver. It is a reasonable assessment, but we have to take into consideration the situation on the ground,” Nyoni said.

He said Zita is a membership -driven organisation which should, under normal circumstances, be sustained by its members.

“Theatre practitioners with a steady income are very few and this limits the membership base and therefore the administrative ability of the association.”

According to Nyoni, the situation has been further complicated by the failure to get money from donors to fund salaries.

“Donors rarely provide salaries for organisations and that meant that Zita did not have proper administrative structures outside of the executive committee. The odds have always been heavily staked against anyone running Zita,” Nyoni explained.

The Zita administrator said the immediate aim of the theatre organisation is to strengthen its membership drive.

“Imagine if Zita could have a membership of ten thousand, each paying a yearly subscription of $20; that’s $200 000, enough to run an office in every province,” he added.

He said, while their aim in the near future is to be self-sustainable, they have no other option at the moment but to rely on donor support in the interim.

Nyoni said the issue of lack of funding was not peculiar to Zita.

“For the arts sector as a whole in Zimbabwe, there is no direct funding from the government.”

The multi-talented artist said the post national coordinator that he holds has made it possible to improve the visibility of the organisation since it was created in March last year.

  “The national coordinator is basically the national administrator. But it is just one person without the necessary resources to recruit support staff and create administrative structures,” he said.

“Zita has become more visible since the position of national coordinator was created.”

As part of efforts to market and its operations and activities, Nyoni revealed that they maintain a Facebook page, a website and produce a monthly newsletter.

Zita was formed in 2008 with Josh Nyapimbi of Nhimbe Trust as chairperson while Jasen Mphepo of Patsime Trust was the deputy chairperson.

The other members of the founding executive were the late Walter Muparutsa (Global Arts Trust), Wits University’s Samuel Ravengai (then with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Theatre Arts Department), Chiedza Makowe, Zimbabwe German Society’s Mandla Ncube , who was at  Pamberi Trust at the time,Obrian Mudyiwenyama (Rooftop Promotions),ex-Zimbabwe Women Writers director  Eresina Hwede and veteran musician Friday Mbirimi.

In September last year, a new executive committee was elected into office; Daniel Maphosa was elected chairperson with Elizabeth Muchemwa coming in as his deputy.

Sheila Bengula, Leeroy Gono, Aubrey Kamba, Michael Banda and Ephraim Vhutuza were voted in as committee members.

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