After years of waiting, government has finally offered office space to secretariats of rights holder associations. They will be housed at the Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) complex which is currently being renovated.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) which the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture has drafted said the associations will be given the space for one-year which will be subject to renewal at the end of the tenure.
Making the announcement on Wednesday in Blantyre during a stakeholders meeting, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi said the issue of office space has been outstanding and he blamed it on unnecessary delays in finalising the offer which was made in 2016.
“In the short time that I have been in office, I have noted with regret that the issue has been dragging for some time now. However, I would like to assure you that the office space will be offered to you as promised,” he said.
The minister expressed hope that a consensus will be reached soon between the ministry and the associations for the MOU to be signed so that the issue is put to bed.
On that note, Usi urged the leadership of various associations to be ready to approach him with workable solutions and propositions once they notice that some things are dragging.
He also revealed that his ministry has taken note of another hanging issue, construction of national arts academy, and he has already been talking to some development partners to fund the project.
Commenting on the offer of office space, National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) president Eric Mabedi said it is a huge relief as the associations have had to wait too long for the space.
“The coming and working within the same space for different associations will increase networking and even opportunities to work on joint proposals for different projects. This is a welcome move,” he said.
On her part, Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president Gloria Man’onga said, having gone through the draft MOU, there are a number of things that require revisiting.
“These include the proposal for us to be paying a little something we feel will be prohibitive to associations which have nothing,” she said.
However, art commentator Sam Chibaka feels the associations need to find ways how they can be productive and self-sustaining instead of just always waiting for handouts.
“There is just so much that the government can do. The rest is up to an individual association to be resourceful,” he said.
Apart from Ntam and MUM, other associations expected to benefit from the offer include Photographers Association of Malawi, Visual Arts Association of Malawi, Journalists Union of Malawi and the Malawi Folklore Dance Music and Song Society.