Two ministers in two months for arts sector

HARARE - The arts sector looks set to get a second minister in less than two months following the expulsion of Sport, Recreation, Arts and

Culture minister Makhosini Hlongwane by the ruling Zanu PF on Sunday.

Hlongwane took over the arts portfolio after the ouster of Abednico Ncube as the Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage minister early last month.

Ncube had taken over the arts portfolio in September 2015 as a replacement for the ineffective Andrew Langa.

The axe has fallen on Hlongwane before he had even completed nationwide consultations that he was holding with artistes.

So far he had met artistes in Harare and Bulawayo in his bid to understand the arts sector.

Veteran theatre director Daves Guzha told the Daily News that the high turnover was not ideal. He was, however, quick to point out he had lately been disappointed by Hlongwane.

“I was cautiously optimistic when he was

appointed but he appeared to me to be unclear with his mandate.  ... Of course he consulted but never shared with us what his mandate was.

“On a personal level, I also became very uncomfortable when I saw him in an apostolic sect garb at the recent church rally (addressed by First Lady Grace Mugabe)…what’s that?,” said Guzha.

The award-winning theatre director, who is the founder of Rooftop Promotions, the organisation that runs Theatre in the Park, wants the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) board, to play a more active role until a new minister is appointed.

“The Nacz board must move in to plug the gap but sadly the board has not called for any meetings with artistes since it was appointed. As artistes we want issues like promoters’ licence fees to be slashed, for example, but that can only happen with the active involvement of the Nacz board,” said Guzha.

The Nacz board, headed by former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Great Zimbabwe University Herbert Chimhundu, includes music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, former Bulawayo town clerk Moffat Ndlovu, AB Communications group chief executive officer Susan Makore, businessman Max Tshuma, academic Ruby Magosvongwe, former legislator Japhet Dube, business executive Docus Savanhu and lawyer Witness Zhangazha.

Leonard Matsa, a theatre director and creative and artistic manager at Savanna Trust, hopes the incoming president will create a stand-alone arts ministry.

“As custodians of national values, we expect an arts ministry that is not a footnote of another obscure ministry. There is obviously anxiety in the industry now.

“At least with Mugabe you knew it was a jobs-for-the-boys-Cabinet… we never expected much.

“The incoming president will naturally want to reward loyalty, but we hope that he or she balances politics with merit, experience and passion when appointing an arts and culture minister.

“A minister that can unlock the huge financial potential of the sector to support the fiscus. We keep our fingers crossed,” said Matsa.

Comments (1)

I was actually surprised to learn that Churches fall under the Ministry of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture. I need some clarity on this since I always thought Churches are under the Heavenly King. I have the impression that putting Churches under a particular ministry is an avenue to easily manipulate and confuse them for and with political ideologies for the advantage of politicians. Admittedly, some of the evangelical or missionary activities can be guided and even controlled by government policies and state laws.

Limukani - 23 November 2017

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