Nhimbe uplifts arts in Byo

HARARE- Bulawayo-based Nhimbe Trust received the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) 2016 National Arts Service Award presented by the Rural Development and Preservation of National Cultural Heritage minister Abedinigo Ncube, on behalf of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NacZ), the convener of Nama.

The Award Citation by the NacZ acknowledged Nhimbe’s work across the spectrum of children in theatre and television, women in theatre and television, advocacy for enabling arts and culture environment, and NPAAC, as well as Nhimbe’s role in introducing the Arterial Network to Zimbabwe, amongst other achievements.

Nhimbe Trust has been in the forefront in terms of uplifting the arts sector in Bulawayo. Among others the Trust monitors and evaluates national laws and public policies and their bearing on the status of the artist and creative industries; improves freedom of artistic expression; improves socio-economic status of artists; creates positive attitudes of society towards artists and their work and enhance gender equity in the culture sector.

In 2015, Nhimbe embarked on a project to develop a baseline report on the legal framework for artistic freedom and censorship in Zimbabwe with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Zimbabwe.

The aim was to conduct a study on censorship legislation and practices in Zimbabwe, with the purpose of submitting a UPR report to the UN Human Rights Council in 2016, including recommendations to the Zimbabwean Government and relevant authorities. It was hoped the study would influence the current legislation and censorship practices in Zimbabwe and serve as an indicator of good practice for network partners and human rights organisations in Zimbabwe and across the African creative sector.

The year 2016 saw the Government of Zimbabwe making clear declarations to adopt several laws that could be regarded as impacting on freedom of expression and, by implication, artistic freedom. At the time of reporting, several such draft laws, though not yet gazetted, have been circulated. These include the Electronic Commerce, Cyber Crime and Data Protection Bills.

From October 4-7, the Nhimbe executive director Josh Nyapimbi, Freemuse’s executive director Ole Reitov and Magnus Ag, senior programme officer for Freemuse, participated at the UPR pre-session in Geneva, Switzerland, hosted by the Geneva-based NGO UPR-Info as part of Nhimbe’s UN Human Rights Commission lobby effort to improve artistic freedom in Zimbabwe.

In this effort Nhimbe is partnering Freemuse, which has had Special Consultative Status with the United Nations since 2012.

Established in 1998, Freemuse is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The pre-session is an opportunity for representatives of civil society to speak directly to UN Member State delegations in Geneva to share information about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, and suggest specific recommendations to be made during the review on November 2.

In March 2016, Nhimbe, along with Freemuse, submitted a joint stakeholder report on artistic freedom in Zimbabwe as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process. Zimbabwe’s review was held on November 2, 2016.

Nhimbe and Freemuse jointly held several lobby meetings with selected national UN missions, namely Sweden, Norway, Canada, Netherlands and USA; and officials from the UN Human Rights Commission, to help ensure that issues around artistic freedom and freedom of expression are more broadly addressed during Zimbabwe’s review on November 2.

The choice of lobby allies was based on the respective governments’ and agencies’ commitment to the ideals of the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR process in general and the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe; by bringing to their attention and for their consideration the Universal Periodic Review Zimbabwe 2016 Joint Stakeholder Submission on Freedom of Artistic Expression with the objective to enlist solidarity.

The Nhimbe and Freemuse lobby meetings explored the following recommendations regarding the Censorship Act and the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill’s Effect on Artistic Freedom:.

In 2015 the Nhimbe Board launched SOWAP as part of the Nhimbe 2015–2018 Strategy. The SOWAP underscores Nhimbe’s commitment to the protection and promotion of women’s rights in the culture sector.

In 2016 Nhimbe launched SOWAP Media Watch which was a monthly column in the Culture Lens Newsletter, which profiled media coverage of women in arts and culture through gender lens.

Nhimbe as the cultural policy expert of CSOs Constitutional Alignment Consortium comprised 42 CSOs convened by the Zimbabwe Institute and Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR); in partnership with the Inter-Ministerial Task Force (IMT) provided ‘culture lens expertise’ in the CSOs contribution in the alignment of legislation with the constitution, through development of Position papers for consideration by the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Alignment of Legislation to the Constitution, which was established by cabinet in February 2015 as an institutional platform/ structure aimed at facilitating the legislative alignment process.

The IMT consists of legal advisors, senior state counsels and representatives from all Government Ministries. The IMT is chaired by the Attorney General and its role is to oversee the implementation of the Constitution.

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