The Sunday News
Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
PEACE is an integral part of local cultural norms that could be used to forge national unity, which, in turn, is necessary to springboard the country to prosperity, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Officiating at the launch of Culture Week in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa noted that the ongoing dialogue with political parties that participated in last year’s Presidential elections under the auspices of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) was part of a deliberate effort to entrench the spirit of unity. Polad was officially launched on Friday.
“One of the major priorities of my Government is to cultivate a culture of peace, tranquillity and tolerance. The respect we have for each other as people coming from different cultural backgrounds is what makes us a nation that is resilient, friendly and hospitable,” he said.
“It is part of who we are as African people, as encapsulated in the spirit of hunhu/ubuntu. I urge each one of us to value and maintain the peace that we are enjoying as it is the bedrock upon which our cultural and national identity are derived . . . Violence is not part of our culture and its proponents must be condemned and rejected. The culture of dialogue is embedded in our traditions, which should be preserved and entrenched. It is upon this background that yesterday (Friday) I launched the Political Actors Dialogue.”
The President urged communities to freely participate in commemorating Culture Week — a seven-day event that celebrates the country’s cultural diversity — as it is a key building block of “a peaceful, loving, united, harmonious and prosperous society”.
Government, he added, was committed to facilitating the growth of the arts, culture and heritage sector, including harnessing it as a tool for economic development. President Mnangagwa said piracy, which essentially violates intellectual property rights and copyright laws, has to be condemned by both producers and consumers.
“I encourage the Ministry (of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation) to continue to facilitate the necessary environment that is needed by artistes to produce, package and distribute their goods and services in a manner that enriches all, without prejudicing their creative impulses and energies. The practice of piracy should be condemned and stopped by producers and consumers of all creative arts. Let us work in unison, respecting each other’s ideas intellectual property and copyrights for a viable and profitable sector.”
He said Government will also prioritise the development of facilities for artistes to showcase their work. The new political administration is committed to grow the arts and culture sub-sectors into successful ventures that are able to generate employment and decent livelihoods for communities, he said.
The recent hosting of the second Belt and Road Afro-Sino Cultural Exchange Programme, where artistes from China, Seychelles and Kenya participated, is considered as an indication of Government’s continued efforts to promote the industry.
“The Belt and Road Initiative, a programme introduced by His Excellency, President Xi Jinping, encourages greater policy coordination, investment, financial integration and cultural exchange, among other components. I am impressed that cultural cooperation is being enhanced as a result of this initiative. As we intensify our engagement and re-engagement policy, let us leverage on the networks we are creating for the furtherance and strengthening of our people to people relations, from across the world,” said the President.
As part of ongoing efforts to preserve diverse ethnic groups, cultures, languages, traditions, history and heritage, Government has also undertaken to translate the Constitution into all recognised languages and enrich different localities through devolution.
President Mnangagwa said: “Zimbabwe is home to many diverse ethnic groups, cultures, languages, traditions, history and heritage which must be recognised, preserved and celebrated. The translation of the Constitution into all constitutionally recognised languages is a demonstration of the respect, the Second Republic accords our diversity. In the framework of devolution, this initiative will enable and empower our people from across the country to freely participate in their governance and development at the grassroots.”
The week-long Culture Week is celebrated through various cultural and artistic expressions. It is commemorated as part of the universal declaration on cultural diversity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
A string of cultural events have been lined up across the country through to May 25 under the theme “The African Royalty — Our Heritage.”