Newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi has called on artists to coordinate their efforts to drive one common agenda.
In an interview last Thursday, the minister said some of the challenges artists face are a result of poor or uncoordinated efforts within the artistic bodies that they belong to.
Usi said: “We need associations that have people with the technical know-how as opposed to know-who. We should not be getting people in those places because we know them, but rather those that know what they are supposed to do.
“For example, the Musicians Union of Malawi needs a person at the top who should understand what music is, the chemistry of poverty for a musician in Malawi and what ought to be done to bail out musicians in Malawi.”
He said it is sad that there are late musicians and dramatists who were celebrated in life but were not supported.
Said Usi: “When they get sick, it’s when reality hits you, you see them suffering and you can tell that these people, are not supported.
“So we need boards, councils that are responding to the needs of the people on the ground.”
The celebrated comedian, dramatist and playwright further stated that at times, the ministry gets the flak on issues that are not supposed to be entirely handled by it.
He said he will ensure that he sees which body is doing what as well as reaching out to the private sector to come in as government resources are not enough.
“Similarly in the ministry, time for celebrating activities is over. A wind of change will shake things up and some will fall off, on their own. This is the change we need to drive and see the difference,” said Usi.
Commenting on Usi’s undertaking, Sungani Zakwathu Cultural Heritage Association executive director Mathews Dontone Mfune said they will support him in lobbying for more budgetary allocation to the ministry.
He said some Treasury officials have for a long time labelled the culture sector as a non-economic; hence, they have been underfunding it against its estimated budgets. “This sector has the potential to offer employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to a lot of youths, women and other vulnerable groups in rural areas if it can get enough support from government, private sector and the development partners,” said Mfune.