We want separate ministry: Artistes

Boniface Chimedza Arts Correspondent
Stakeholders from youth, sports, arts and recreation sectors have reiterated their calls for the separation of their respective portfolios, which they insisted must fall under independent ministries.

The calls were made at the 2019 Stakeholder Consultative Meeting on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation held this week in Harare.

Arts and culture stakeholders who included authors, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers and other artists proffered some ideas towards the resuscitation of the arts and culture sector one of which was the creation of a separate and independent ministry of arts and culture.

Zimbabwe Writers Union (ZIWU) chairperson Stephen Chipfunyise, who is also a cultural consultant on international conventions, implored government to avoid shuffling the arts sector from ministry to ministry, saying that affects both the creation and implementation of policy.

“I am much more worried by policy inconsistencies over the years since 1981 and policy inconsistencies have risen because of the dramatic changes of the functions of this ministry. The sector of the arts has been moved to and from various ministries over the years and each time there has been a change there are also clear indications of policies that have been inaugurated being ignored or undermined or being seen as irrelevant,” said Chipfunyise.

Presenting the contributions for the arts and culture cluster, sensational jazz musician Ruth Mbangwa also weighed in with the proposition for the creation of a separate ministry of arts.

“We are also lobbying for our own independent ministry because we feel overshadowed when we are in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation. We would be very happy to have our own ministry,” said Mbangwa.

In her welcome address to the stakeholders, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr. Thokozile Chitepo, acknowledged that there are areas that the ministry has been falling short, adding that the purpose of the inclusive consultative meeting was to find common ground and forge ahead.

“We have got the three sectors of youth, sports and arts, but pertaining the youth in particular, what is most frustrating is that there is so much expectation and so much knowledge about what could be and what should be for them; the truth of the matter is that we have not been very successful and that is the truth,” said Chitepo.

“We need to come up with suggestions on what is going to make the efforts that we have done more successful or alternatively try new ways of doing things that are going to be successful,” Chitepo said.

Chitepo urged ministry personnel in attendance to be more receptive to stakeholders’ concerns.

“The staff that came from government, whichever department you are in, I want you to know that these are our stakeholders, so we need to build better relationships with them. We need to build a new way of engaging with each other that is not defensive,” asserted Chitepo.

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