Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
BULAWAYO artistes have pinned hope on President Mnangagwa after engaging him during a two-day Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) conference held at a city hotel over the weekend.
The artistes had time to mingle with the First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa on Friday and with President Mnangagwa on Saturday, for the first time since he assumed office. Most said this interaction lifted their hopes as they feel their challenges will be addressed after the President pledged to support them.
The Bulawayo engagement came after President Mnangagwa launched the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy and endorsed the idea of Bulawayo becoming the National Cultural capital.
Posting on his Twitter account, President Mnangagwa reiterated that the Government will always support the artistes.
“The arts have a big role to play in promoting unity and harmony and they will always have the support of this government,” he tweeted,
Gwanda’s Bolamba Culture Birds dance group who have been invited for dinner at the State House by his Excellency said they are happy with the engagement’s turnout.
The group’s director Mthabisi Dube said it is their hope that they will be given grants in order to enrol at universities and colleges.
“We’re quite happy we had the chance of meeting the President and First Lady. Now, we’re sure that our challenges will be looked into and dealt with.
“As dancers, if we were to get grants so as to be given the opportunity of being enrolled to universities and colleges, we would be very pleased indeed as that will help us to broaden our careers,” said Dube.
A filmmaker, singer, actor and producer, Madlela Skhobokhobo is confident that Government will start addressing artistes concerns. He, however, expressed hope that the Government will, among many issues, ensure that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) pays them the money it owes them.
“Our wish is that the Government makes a plan so that ZBC can pay its debt and compensate us for outstanding arrears for some of our content. If that is achieved, it will help for future contracts to be signed. It’ll also yield fruitful results thereby growing our film industry,” said Madlela Skhobokhobo.
As a way of showing that he means business in ensuring the welfare of arts practitioners is made a vital cog in reviving the economy, the President was accompanied to the Bulawayo Indaba by Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.
Musician Zinjaziyaluma said when organising events, Government should rope in artistes to provide entertainment.
“For us to grow, it starts with appreciation by the Government. We feel that for their events, they should call us so that we perform in order to ensure that we get some money.
“As musicians, we make money mostly through shows thus this is a good way of ensuring that we do not die as paupers. Vital messages of national interest should be relayed through us to promote awareness as music is listened to by many,” said Zinjaziyaluma.
Reigning Miss Tourism Bulawayo, Natasha Carol Gora said:
“As models, we’re discriminated against. People think that by being a model, one is a prostitute, but that’s not true. The actual fact is that modelling is our profession.
“I propose that harsh laws be formulated to ensure that such kind of behaviour does not ever happen to us as we’re just models who are trying to make a living through the profession.”
Fashionista, Method Nsingo said funds should be availed to ensure that a number of fashion festivals are birthed.
“We expect the Government to increase funding for the fashion industry and avail more money towards fashion events. Designers and models should also have a new payment scheme that will be implemented to ensure no models are hired for exposure,” said Nsingo.
Another indaba to come up with comprehensive solutions to the challenges faced by the creatives will be held in Harare next year. The President who was impressed by the clarity of thinking in the arts industry, promised artistes Government support and removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tape that are stalking the arts industry. He also threw his weight behind the idea of declaring Bulawayo the National Cultural Capital and okayed the submission that the first National Cultural Festival be held in the city. – @mthabisi_mthire