By Sam Banda Jnr
Creatives got a rare mention in President Lazarus Chakwera’s national address made on Tuesday, when he unveiled the Covid Social-Economic Recovery Plan (Serp) for the period 2021 and 2023.
For a long time, the creative sector has lamented lack of support by the government and the corporate world despite contributing greatly to the country’s development.
In the absence of National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) whose bill is yet to be tabled in Parliament, the creative sector relies heavily on donor support, with no funding from the government.
In the absence of Nahec, the creative sector has also not received any cushion despite being affected heavily by Covid.
But its rare mention by Chakwera in has atleast brought smiles to creatives although some quarters feel “there should be more action than just words”.
In his address, Chakwera said a further aspect of Serp to address the effects of the pandemic is the provision and scaling up of fiscal and monetary stimulus towards those productive sectors damaged by the pandemic, such as the hospitality and service sector, creative industry, and small and medium enterprises.
He said this will in fact be a key focus of government through the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank throughout the 2021-23 recovery period.
Chakwera said the focus will include a review of the amount, terms, and scope of loans available to young people and women through National Economic Empowerment Fund.
He also said it include rolling out a skills development programme under the National Youth Service towards the creation of more jobs for youth.
“These will not be jobs or loans handed out on demand or as an entitlement on a silver platter, but jobs and loans that will only benefit those ready to pursue them fearlessly and compete for them fairly,” Chakwera said.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi, who is also an artist, welcomed the President’s speech and that the highlight on creativity brings smiles to the creative sector.
“This is a very encouraging manifestation and it shows that the creative industry has support from the government, there is political will and the environment is conducive,” Usi said.
He said there has been lack of political will in the past and that now things are moving in the right direction.
“This augurs strongly with narrative of the 2063 Agenda which also gives creatives the limelight,” he said.
Renowned poet Q Malewezi, who has been in the limelight advocating the recognition of creative industries also welcomed the President’s speech.
“We feel heard. It is a welcome development and now we are looking forward to more details on the framework and we are willing to be part of the framework and we are available for consultations,” Q said.
Musician and activist Eric Trinta, who with some creatives petitioned Parliament recently lobbying for tabling of Nahec Bill and also creative support, said these were positive signs for the industry.
“This is why the vessel, as in Nahec, is important for proper reaching out to players in the industry,” Trinta said.