First lady endorses Cultural and Creative Industries

FIRST Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa has endorsed the formation and implementation of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in Zimbabwe, which seek to revive the arts sector, while also working towards creating a sustainable platform that will see it contribute significantly towards the country’s GDP by the year 2030.

Amai Mnangagwa, who was the guest of honour at the official launch of the conference on ease of doing business in the Creative and Cultural Industries in Zimbabwe held in Bulawayo on Friday, said she was pleased that it was being spearheaded in Bulawayo, which is the home of the arts industry.

“Today sees me engage stakeholders in the Creative and Cultural Industries (CCIs). This formal engagement with the CCIs is no accident and has been a long time coming. My childhood and adult life has been strongly influenced by local music and drama. I am no performer but I have always immersed myself and have been inspired by immense talent exhibited by sons and daughters of Zimbabwe.

“It is not lost to me that Zimbabwe has some of the best creative talents. From the post-independence era that saw the emergence of cultural institutions such as Amakhosi to the contemporary era that has seen the emergence of hubs, the cultural landscape in Zimbabwe in general and Bulawayo has surely evolved. I am proud of Bulawayo groups such as IYASA and Insingizi and artists such as Sandra Ndebele who have exported Zimbabwean culture to the rest of the world. The endurance of the CCIs is indeed commendable,” said Amai Mnangagwa.

She however, said that her main cause of concern in the arts industry was the rise in cases of artists struggling with their careers.

“What is of concern to me are cases of artists struggling through life, the zenith of their careers. We have all witnessed distinguished women and men being dealt a heavy blow by life’s challenges. The current economic challenges have further compromised artists’ social safety nets. Any society ought to be concerned when artists are in strife. The CCIs have provided jobs to many youths over the years. I wish to challenge parents and guardians to encourage and allow their children to pursue the arts.

“We all have an obligation to challenge societal perceptions of the arts as a peripheral and non-formal occupation. It is my highly considered submission that the cultural sector should not be engaged on a charitable basis. While selected institutions and individuals have positively responded to the plight of artists, the convening of this conference seeks to unravel the very structural barriers that hinder sustainable growth of the CCIs,” said Amai Mnangagwa.

She added that she was concerned about the wanton abuse of players in the industry.

“Among a litany of challenges, I am particularly concerned about the rampant and wanton abuse of Intellectual Property Rights. Artists’ intellectual and creative output ought to be respected and protected. I am delighted that this conference places reform of administrative, policy and legislative provisions in respect of property rights at the center of deliberations. This is indeed the path to pursue if we are to empower our creatives. Commercialisation of the CCIs shall forever remain elusive so long as intellectual property rights are not respected,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa stated that Government, through the budget had set aside funds to capacitate organisations that would work towards protecting artistes in the regard of intellectual property.

“It is my expectation that this conference will make practical submissions on how intellectual property rights can be strengthened. As a woman and mother, I want to emphasise the importance of creating safe working spaces for female artists. Women must at all times be protected. Consideration of ease of doing business must also project a gender lense. Duty bearers and cultural operators must be deliberate about consistently providing safe spaces for women to create and distribute artistic content. I was particularly delighted that the 2020 national budget statement has made a provision for distribution of sanitary pads to girls in school,” said Amai Mnangagwa.

She encouraged arts institutions and stakeholders to emulate the works of the Government in uplifting and protecting females in the industry.

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