Clive Malunga

The State of the Music Industry a Reflection of the Quality of National Leadership

The music industry in Zimbabwe is dead. It will take a lot of hard work to restore it to its past glory.

The death of the music industry has deprived many established and aspiring musicians of the opportunity to make a living through the production of art. Music is not paying anymore due to rampant piracy. Many Zimbabweans have capitalised on judicial loopholes to illegally duplicate the work of artists and sell it on the streets in the full glare of law enforcement agents. Indeed, some police officers are complicit in piracy by selling pirated music themselves and/or buying pirated music. The government is doing nothing to protect musicians.

The Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe have become useless institutions that serve no purpose in the music industry. One would have thought that resolving the crisis in the music sector should have been their preoccupation. Instead, the institutions have become huge conduits for siphoning public funds, ostensibly to support the arts, when in reality they will be lining the pockets of public officers. Apart from holding workshops in top hotels at which public officials make sweet public pronouncements, there is absolutely nothing happening on the ground towards resuscitating the arts sector. Only when proper government structures are put in place to work in tandem with musicians will the music industry begin to recover and prosper.

Since 1980 when we attained our hard fought independence, musicians have never had a minister of arts and culture who substantively and exclusively focuses on arts issues. It has always been a mixture of arts and sports and because of that, nothing significant has ever been achieved in both the arts and sports. The competences and attitudes that are needed for managing the creative sector are not necessarily the same as those required for managing the sports sector. These two sectors of arts and sports are far apart from each other in terms of management demands and funding requirements, hence the need for two separate ministries. There is need for a stand-alone ministry of arts and culture and another one for sports.

Gabriel Machinga

As a result of a lack of proper structures, sports in Zimbabwe has been on an unprecedented downward trajectory. Zimbabwe has performed dismally in a wide range of sports: soccer, athletics, boxing, cricket and hockey etc. In the arts, nothing significant has been achieved since 1980.

We had ministers like David Joseph Kwidini, Witness Mangwende, David Coltart, Gabriel Machinga and Lazarus Dokora who knew nothing about arts, and yet they led the ministry with an arts mandate. No wonder that the arts have been on a downward trend. You cannot expect a person who knows nothing about a sector to successfully champion the development of the sector. Choosing ministers of government should be based on merit alone. Opportunity should be given to competent people regardless of race or gender. In appointing people to the arts portfolio the president should be guided by possession of competences in the area.

Soccer, athletics and rugby have brought many smiles on quite a number of African countries, for example, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameron, Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Egypt. Music, theatre and fine arts are big business in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Senegal. Consequently, these African countries have branded their national images through the use of either sports or arts. Their teams have raised their national flags high at regional and international competitions.  Success in regional and international competitions has the effect of bringing a nation together. This also helps to bring much-wanted corporate sponsorship into arts and sports.

David Coltart

Zimbabwe is not counted among the top 20 African heavyweights in music, poetry, fine arts, soccer, and athletics.  Is it because we are a country without talent? A thousand times no. Zimbabwe abounds with talent but we as Zimbabweans are not nurturing the talent and building a winning culture within our society. To lose is not a big deal in Zimbabwe. Are we not ashamed as a nation to be perennially on the bottom list?

Winning at regional and international events brings happiness and smiles to a whole country. The whole country will unite under one banner. Different political parties, ethnicities and races are brought together by arts and sports events which are won at regional or international platforms. Sports and arts must be given the chance to contribute to nation building.   Imagine how much revenue a well-developed sports sector and well supported arts sector will contribute towards the national fiscus.

Lazarus Dokora

The other factors that are hindering the development of the country in general and of the arts and sports sectors in particular are bad governance, incompetent leadership, self-serving leadership, corrupt officials, a captured arts and sports space, silencing the voice of reason through the use of fear and a closed-door policy only meant to benefit the elite.

The Second Republic and the First Republic, when it comes to the treatment of arts, are just different sides of the same coin.  They both did immeasurable damage to the arts sector because of ignorance, arrogance and lack of care. The plight of artists is worse in the Second Republic where problems of artists have been exacerbated by the effects of Covid19. Yet we see no conceited efforts by government to support the arts sector!

The government of Zimbabwe is clueless and seems to be navigating the high waters of development with no compass. There are no sectors where this is better reflected than in the arts and sports sectors.  Globally, the arts and sports sectors’ ability to generate massive employment for the youth is proven. Yet, the government of Zimbabwe lacks a serious road map for the development of the sector. Ignoring the arts and sports sectors means the government is just paying lip service to employment creation. Policies crafted by bureaucrats in their boardrooms without involving artists and sportspersons have no greater value than the papers they are written on. They are just wishful thinking deficient of any practical ideas to take the arts and sports sectors forward. This business of taking sports and arts as mere hobbies must stop.

Arts and sports are multi-billion dollar industries in many developed economies. If properly managed these sectors can significantly contribute to the growth of the Zimbabwean economy.  We cannot afford to continue to lag behind other nations in development, creativity and innovation. Unless, we adopt policies of inclusive development that truly does not want to leave anyone and any sector behind, we can continue as the laughing stock of the 21st century, in spite of our huge potential.

In as much as we blame the youth for indulging in drugs, the blame must squarely be put on the shoulders of the elders and leaders. The government has failed to facilitate the creation of adequate jobs for the youth. People at the top are either ignorant about the abundant job opportunities they can create through sports and arts or they simply do not care what happens to our youths. Dormant minds are vulnerable to engaging in all sorts of vices. Many youths have simply stopped dreaming of becoming celebrities in arts and sports. For most of them it does not matter to dream anymore, when you know that no one is going to support you with the resources needed to realise your dreams. Those that try to persevere on their own despite the odds end up also giving up because of lack of appreciation of their efforts. Being an artist or a sportsperson is nothing in the eyes of government. Because of the dire economic conditions that our best sportspersons and artists live in, taking up jobs in the sector is now very unattractive. Thus, government’s culpability to this epidemic of drug abuse that has engulfed our nation should not be diminished.

For arts and sports sectors to prosper, government must provide adequate funding. Proper infrastructure and trained coaches are prerequisites for the development of these sectors. Our once iconic facilities such as Rufaro Stadium, Gwanzura Stadium and Barbourfields are in serious states of disrepair. The infrastructure of the old social clubs established before independence has also been left to rot. Are these examples I have cited not ample evidence of the shocking levels of dereliction of duty by our government? This government has been in this drunken stupor for too long and there seems to be no waking up! These huge abnormalities are “normal” to public office bearers and are insanely presented as “a lot of progress ” by the Second Republic. God save Zimbabwe.

When a nation is denied freedom of expression, it automatically becomes a dictatorship. Just as we may agree on many things, we may as well disagree on many other fronts. That does not make us enemies but people with diverse views on how to take our country forward. I for one, agree with the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is preached by Apostle Talent Farai Chiwenga. It is my inalienable right as a citizen of Zimbabwe to decide my spiritual destiny; no one can deny me that right. The same applies to political affiliation. It is time we grow as a nation and learn to tolerate each other as political competitors. 

If ZANU (PF) delivers on what it promised the masses, I will vote them into office until cows come home. If they fail to deliver, I will vote them out of office. Threats or intimidating the population will not work. Zimbabweans have a rich history of resisting tyranny and rising up in large numbers to overthrow subjugation and oppression.

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