THE elections are upon us once again. We now have a date, the Nomination Court sat only last week and now proper campaigns have started in earnest.
There is always a lot of art in elections, not just local elections but elections all over the world. Remember the arts have been proven beyond doubt as an effective vehicle for mass mobilisation — the arts bring people together. We are all aware how artistes, young and old, popular and not so popular, have been used by political parties and politicians to solicit for votes. It’s an international trend. That mad period is on us again dear friends and fellow artistes.
The use of artistes for political campaigns is nothing new. We all expect it. It’s normal. As we write political parties and individuals are already busy mapping their strategies with artistes — strategies on how to mobilise and maximise votes. In the past week we have already seen a number of candidates advertising musical shows in their constituents — some of the artistes coming as far as Harare. And it’s going to get intense as we get near the election date — seeing we are almost in July. Art is politics and with so much drama in politics these days politics itself has become the ultimate drama.
Anyway this week’s column is not about the drama in politics but about the few brave artistes who this year decided to take up the challenge and contest for political positions in the coming general elections. As a sector we are always complaining that politicians don’t understand us, and when given a chance to lead us always sideline the sector. So this week it’s standing up and raising our hands in support of Nkululeko Nkala who is standing up for an MP position for Pumula, Nigel Ndlovu also standing up for MP position for Magwegwe, Prince Mazilankakha Ncube who has ambitions of representing the sector in council as a councillor for Makokoba. Thumbs up also to Lewis Ndlovu, founder of Drums of Peace who is also gunning for a councillor’s position in Makokoba. We all wish them the best and hope come 30 July, they will be duly elected to their desired positions.
There are a lot of reasons why the arts sector need artistes in political leadership positions. Not just artistes but artistes with good leadership qualities. Artistes who can make things happen for and in the sector. Their presence in the leadership will help push the sector. One of the biggest weakness at the moment about the arts and culture sector is lack of favourable policies to push the sector to another level.
For starters the country has no national policy directing the governance and development of arts and culture in the country. Currently, the sector is managed and directed from several ministries. This has made operating in the sector more like navigating through a thick jungle — a serious nightmare. So we need serious political will and muscle to push for a proper national arts and culture policy and its immediate implementation.
We need certain policies in our municipalities to change, especially regarding arts and culture. We need leaders who will see the sector not just as a youth playground, leaders who will push for progressive arts policies and bring proper arts and culture activities in youth centres and the different communities. We need councillors and MPs who will understand that there is a serious need for an arts and culture budget and both local and national governments.
So if you are in the sector — artistes or otherwise — and you are voting in a constituents where one of the candidates is an artiste do the right thing and vote with your head. Vote for the future of the sector.