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Ministry under pressure to formulate Arts, Heritage Bill

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Ministry of Sports and Culture is under pressure to come up with a clean draft of National Arts and Heritage Council of Malawi Bill by the end of this financial year and ensure that it is tabled and passed into law by July 1 next year.

The pressure comes after the ministry has struggled from one party era to come up with a National Cultural Policy which saw all previous governments giving lip service to the policy until February this year when cabinet approved it.

One requirement from the policy is that arts and heritage should be combined into one council to be called National Arts and Heritage Council of Malawi.

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Speaking yesterday at a Northern Region stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the draft bill on the National Arts and Heritage Council of Malawi Act, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Sports and Culture

Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu said since a policy has a five year life span, the drafting of the bill should be finished within two years before the policy expires in 2020.

“We should finish drafting the bill by the end of this financial year.

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By 1st July [next year] we must have the bill passed. We should do justice to ourselves by ensuring that whatever we say in this bill should be things we have been looking for. Our view is that by 2020, the council secretariat should be functional,” said Chindebvu .

Principal Secretary for Sports and Culture Sam Madula said Malawi stands to benefit more than before once the National Arts and Heritage Council Bill becomes a law.

“The Council will among other things provide a harmonised approach for resource mobilisation for the arts and cultural heritage sector.

It will also foster cooperation between government and institutions, local authorities, private sector, non-governmental organisations and all those that are actively involved in driving the national development agenda and attract more investment in the sector,” said Madula.

The meeting was aimed at soliciting views from various stakeholders from government, and arts and heritage sector.

The creative industry is eagerly waiting for the bill and many artists have called upon the government to fasten the process.

Meanwhile Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) yesterday held a press conference at Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) offices to among others voice out their concerns on the delays to bring to Parliament the Copyright bill.

Mum President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango confirmed of the press briefing saying as artists they feel there is little progress on the Copyright bill.

“We appreciate what the government has done in among others allocating us some money for the creative industry in the budget but we still feel the most vital thing is the Copyright bill,” he said.

Mhango said the creative industry is suffering and that the Copyright bill provides for enhanced fines and penalties for pirates.

“This Copyright bill will reduce levels of piracy and provide for compensatory mechanism among others. This is a lifeline for musicians

in this digital era. There is a lot in it,” he said.

The Mum President also said that during the press briefing, they also called upon media houses to play more local music observing that at the moment, many media houses give more airplay to foreign music.— Additional information by Sam Banda Jnr

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