Parties fail to impress players in creative industry

Many times,  players in the creative industry have been overlooked by political parties when crafting their blueprints.

With 43 days to the May 21 Tripartite Elections, politicians are selling their plans to voters as they scramble to earn their ticket to power.

UDF manifesto promises to promote fashion designers

On Sunday, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) unveiled their manifestos, joining Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party who launched theirs earlier last month.

These major political parties have articulated their plans for the country in the next five years if given the mandate to rule.

The parties have also stated what they think are perfect ideals to see this country move forward in areas such as economy, agriculture, tourism, education and arts.

Minus MCP, the other three parties have included at least a clause or two on how they intend to develop the creative industry once voted into power.

On the list of its promises, DPP has pledged to enact the National Arts and Heritage Bill and review the National Censorship and Control of Public Entertainment Act of 1968, the Museums Act of 1989 and the National Archives Act of 1975.

The party has also promised to review the Printed Publications Act of 1947, Arts and Craft Act (1990), Monuments and Relics Act (1990), National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens Act (1987), Gaming and Lotteries Bill (2016) and the National Library Service Act (1967).

According to the UTM manifesto, their plans on supporting the development and implementation of tourism hinges on packages such as archaeological or cultural safaris, art, music and cultural festivals and identification and maintenance of cultural heritage sites.  

As for UDF, their drive to promote entrepreneurship among young people will be centred on building confidence in young talents such as fashion designers, musicians, artists and digital developers so that they can establish their own enterprises. 

Further to that, UDF says it will seek to diversify the economy to broaden the sources of growth to include tourism, the creative arts and information communication and technology (ICT).

However, players in the creative industry have expressed discontent with the commitments stating that they [the parties] have not come out clearly on what they intend to do to promote the industry.

Musician Union of Malawi (MUM) president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango said it is clear the political players are not aware of the challenges that the industry is facing now.

 “None has mentioned some of the pressing challenges that we are facing such as piracy, lack of a school of art, an auditorium and a record label,” he said in an interview.

Mhango has since urged the parties to relook at their promises even though they have already been released.

He added that the union is ready to organise an interface meeting with them as a way of orienting them on what is needed.

On his part, renowned writer and former president of Book Publishers Association of Malawi (Bpam) Alfred Msadala also expressed doubts on the promises that parties have made to revamp the creative industry.

“Most of this is just rhetoric. Through my experience, people just make these promises and sit on them once they get into power. The issue of constructing a modern library has been around for long but nothing seems to happen,” he said.   

Music and arts commentator Gregory Gondwe said it is encouraging that political parties have shown that they live and exist in the present as demonstrated in the way they have focused on creative arts.

“The belief from old-aged parties such as MCP is that the creative industry is not popular enough to garner attraction that can translate into votes. However, such a belief is premised on a shaky foundation because this is an alternative industry to agriculture.

“They have recognised tourism as a critical driver of the country’s economy and it is a mockery to divorce creative industry from tourism,” he said in an interview.

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