Four Hifa investors pull out

HARARE - Zimbabwe's biggest arts showcase, the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), says it has lost four direct investors due to the country’s depressed economic environment.

Tafadzwa Simba, Hifa’s associate executive director, told the Daily News yesterday that the four corporates, that he declined to name, were no longer in a position to sponsor one of Africa’s leading festivals.

“There are four direct investors who will not be part of Hifa this year who were there last year. We would like to note that the operating environment is very difficult,” said Simba.

“Needless to say, the economic environment has been difficult over the past year and yes, there are some companies that will not be able to benefit from an association with what has been recognised as one of the largest international events in the world.”

The Hifa associate executive director, however, shot down claims that Coca-Cola was among the four companies that had cut ties with the festival.

“Coca-Cola has not dropped out; they are on board for Hifa 2015. Although there will not be a Coca-Cola day at Hifa 2015, the long-established Coca-Cola Green is still there, brought for Zimbabweans by Coca-Cola,” he said.

“Further, Coca-Cola has come in with two of its other brands, Schweppes Water which is the official water to Hifa 2015 as well as Minute Maid which is the official fruit juice to Hifa 2015.”

Simba added that the withdrawal of the four companies would have minimal impact because several new investors had joined the festival.

“There are seven new investors on board for this year and the companies that have come on board have stepped up to the plate to support a significant community initiative,” said Simba.

“That is why they support this product which Zimbabwe is proud of. They are supporting a community event. The festival is like Zimbabwe’s own World Cup — the only difference being that the country hosts Hifa every year on its own home turf.”

According to the Hifa spokesperson, the ability of some companies to continue investing in the festival against a backdrop of economic difficulties is proof of these companies’ stability.

“If anyone wants to see which companies in this country are stable, committed to Zimbabwe, forward-looking and loyal to Zimbabweans, you just have to look at the list of sponsors supporting Hifa as a community initiative. That is a roll call of the companies that are solid in this country and which the public should take note of,” he said.

“Hifa on average employs around 1 000 people (event assistants, general hands, technicians etc) as well as over 1 000 Zimbabwean artists.”

Despite the withdrawal of some companies, Simba said this year’s edition of Hifa, which will run from April 28 to May 3, would be the best to date.

“The beauty of a festival is that by its very nature there are things that stay the same yet every year also brings on board things that are new. The programme, obviously, is fresh from year to year. So there will be audience favourites like the same genres, venues and atmosphere,” he said.

“However, there will be a wide, varied and innovative programme that caters for everyone. One thing to certainly look out for is the five-hour electronic music experience called Sonic Wonderland on ZOL Main Stage on Saturday, May 2 presented by the European Union.

“It will start at 8.30 pm. It is a novelty at Hifa not only in its length but also in the line-up of the DJs that will be there. It will feature the world-renowned Bassjackers, the Blinders as well as Zimbabwe’s own Jason Le Roux.”

Apart from Hifa’s major draw card, renowned African music giant Salif Keita, Simba revealed that there would be a major dancehall gig this year.

“There will be the Dancehall Alliance featuring Buffalo Souljah, Guspy Warrior and female chanter Kaakie from Ghana. This will be on ZOL Main Stage on Thursday,  April 30 and is presented by DANIDA,” he said.

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