Renowned comedian Michael Usi popularly known as Manganya in the arts industry was on Wednesday appointed Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture in a 31 member cabinet which has received mixed reactions from the public.
Having announced earlier this week that his cabinet will not surpass 30 members, the cabinet has hit 31 made of 23 ministers and eight deputies.
When contacted Thursday on what players in the sectors should anticipate, Usi, said:
“I cannot comment now. I need to wait. I will do that after the swearing in ceremony”.
Usi used to star and produce Tikuferanji, a popular soapie before joining UTM.
Several players in the industry have welcomed Usi’s appointment but have challenged him to change the face of tourism, wildlife and culture which have been sidelined for a long time.
Some artists, said they would want Usi to breathe life to culture which continues to lobby for the Arts Council.
National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) President Eric Mabedi congratulated Usi for his appointment.
“It is a good choice. He is an artist and so he will surely help us,” Mabedi said yesterday.
Wezi Mzumara, Co-founder of Mzuzu Fashion Week, also welcomed the appointment of Usi.
“His strong point is culture rather than tourism. Both departments are in crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic so first thing to focus on would be working on this and establishing a recovery plan as it will take three years to recover,” Mzumara said.
“For culture, there is need to establish more funding and grant opportunities locally for artisans and artists. In terms of fashion and beauty, it would be good to see a sub division in the ministry in collaboration with trade and agriculture that focuses specifically on the entire value chain of the textile and apparels. From the farm to the shelf to export,” Mzumara said.
Film Association of Malawi (Fama) President Ezaius Mkandawire welcomed the new minister was welcome.
“He is an artist. That gives us a feeling that he is well versed with problems dogging the creative sector,” he said.
Renowned dramatist and drama lecturer at University of Malawi – Chancellor College in Zomba, Smith Likongwe, said the minister was not a stranger in the entertainment and culture industry.
“When he consults he shall know what to adopt and what to leave aside for future consideration. Theatres need to be available. The Blantyre Cultural Centre needs completion, in Lilongwe places like Lilongwe Community Centre Hall could be refurbished to provide affordable performance hall. Of course the Lilongwe City Council would have to be consulted,” Likongwe said.
He also said that the new minister would have to work hand in hand with Ministry of Education to promote newly introduced subject of Performing Arts in secondary schools.
Pen Malawi President Alfred Msadala, said he was yet to study the cabinet.
“I have seen it but I am yet to see the other ministries. Michael Usi is of theatrical arts background and I want to see how he can fit in other arts disciplines,” he said.
Recently Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) President and other members welcomed the new government led by President Lazarus Chakwera and his Vice Saulos Chilima and called upon them to have interest in the creative industry.