In July young 44 visitors coming for a cultural exchange programme of 'UMOJA- The Flying Carpet' from three countries two of which are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union, that is South Africa and Mozambique where Zimbabwe is a member and will be taking over the SADC chair this August were deported at entry because they did not have police clearances from their countries as per Zimbabwe's immigration regulations.
Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, was quoted in the media on the Umoja visitors' refusal of entry to have said, "Zimbabwe is a sovereign State that has laws. People coming into the country should at all times observe the country's laws to avoid disappointments of such a nature."
Well said Minister, but who does not know that? Why tell the nation the obvious and not tell it that your ministry's operating system is the one that has failed the project and in that stroke has failed the country´s cultural sector that the President of the Republic put under your control. These are the issues that drive me crazy and mad about we Zimbabweans! Why are we such a nation of highly educated idiots who contradict themselves at every given opportunity?
This is not about Zimbabwe being a sovereign State or having laws. All countries are and do have laws. This is about a country whose government ministry structures fail to continuously educate its citizens about the laws and regulations that its politicians make in Parliament! This is about a government and its politicians who make bad regulations and policies that attract negative publicity and promote a bad image of this great country! This is about government ministries and departments failing to rescue their own citizens should they find themselves in a 'situation´ where they have overlooked some processes while trying to do well for Zimbabwe!
Why is your Ministry failing to go out of its way to assist Zimbabweans who mean well for the development of the country? If you don´t who should? Why do we forget where we are coming from as a people and a nation? Why do we refuse to understand the situation we are in as a country and respond to such? We need to create jobs for young people. Period!
Day in day out I hear business people, politicians and economists scream that the Zimbabwean economy needs 'foreign direct investment' to turn around the economy. Is turning away 44 visitors from three different countries coming to camp in Zimbabwe for weeks at the port of entry not turning away the foreign direct investment flow attracted by arts and culture into the country? If these were 44 visitors interested in mining or agriculture would they have been treated the same way?
Then in the same light you expect the Norwegians, South Africans and Mozambican business people to have confidence in investing in a country that turns away their children who come in good faith to learn about our country's beautiful people, culture and heritage and find no excuse to rescue them in a situation that they found themselves in.
In my opinion a very simple situation if I may say that should have been handled with ease by our Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture in collaboration with other government departments if the right ministerial systems were in place for such emergency occasions. But what did our government departments see in these 44 visitors? They saw 44 smooth criminals! Sure Zimbabwe?
It is unthinkable in my opinion to accept that we Zimbabweans can find comfort in chasing away children from Mozambique of all the countries coming to Zimbabwe to share in our countries' cultures and heritage. We are liberated today because we stood for years on Mozambique soil so that we can claim that sovereign status that Langa is boasting about today, yet his ministry found no reason to go out of its way to rescue Mozambique's children to have a learning and sharing experience with our children! Sure government departments: is this how you want to operationalise our sovereignty? We are SADC for God's sake. Does that mean anything to our politicians and government departments?
Just a few months back, Minister Langa was at Pakare Paye Arts Center with his Principal Director, Rev. Paul Damasane when he was quoted in the media that he would help Oliver Mtukudzi finish the construction of the arts Centre by engaging the private sector to assist. But Minister here comes a project of 44 visitors before you add the Zimbabweans that were to camp at Pakare Paye Arts Centre for weeks. Just consider how much revenue the arts Centre would have generated to help fund its programmes and advance its construction all to support and develop young talented Zimbabwean children so that they create jobs in the creative industries.
Your government cannot afford to fund arts and culture at the scale of Pakare Paye like other governments of sovereign countries do for their arts and culture sector. Yet here comes a project that would have made all the financial difference by hosting the project at Pakare Paye and your ministry is nowhere to save the project in the process saving the Arts Centre to generate revenues as per your promise!
If your ministry cannot go out of its way to rescue Mtukudzi's project as a successful Zimbabwean doing well for a lot of young people in line with government's objectives of creating jobs for the young who under the sun will you rescue? Are you waiting to assist white Rhodies Hon Minister?
I will quote my late great-great grandmother Gogo Thwakuzo who remains my great teacher to this day. She once said to me that the difference between a black manager and a white manager is that black managers express their power and take joy and pride by stopping things from happening while white managers express their power, joy and pride by facilitating things to happen. This is so true to this incident where the immigration department found no reason to express their power by facilitating this project to happen but instead expressed their power by stopping it to happen.
The National Arts Council is celebrating too that they managed to stop the project from happening and I am sure that they have had a cocktail party at their offices claiming that the Umoja project promoters knew what needed to be done. But did the participants know? A number of 44 cultural exchange visitors from three countries are not like your single or two visitors from one town. Nor are they your simple band of eight people coming for a festival!
I have no objections to the fact that our laws and regulations are supreme and that we should all be guided by them, but I have a problem with managers who fail to separate genuine matters that have a potential of doing more harm to the nation if badly managed from those that would matter less. I will never understand why the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture working with the National Arts Council and the Department of Immigration fail to express their power by facilitating positives to happen and rescue situations that can bring more goodwill to the nation than harm. Even the President of our Republic does at some point pardon offenders serving prison sentences because situations are not always similar and flat sided deserving to be painted with the same brush all the time!
The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture under Langa continues to blunder in its leadership of the Creative Industries because of a serious disconnect between the Ministry and key arts and cultural institutions of Zimbabwe. In my observations this disconnect is being created deliberately by the senior directors within the Ministry. The Hon Minister must address this disconnect without delay before it makes him and his Mathebeleland South click within the Ministry and the National Arts Council, make him unpopular across the country´s arts and culture sector!
So far Minister Langa´s Ministry is not doing a good job for the nations Creative Industries. It remains irrelevant to the country´s economic, social, cultural and political development.