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Musicians plan peaceful demonstrations to Parliament

Musicians are planning to hold peaceful demonstrations during the next sitting of parliament, The Daily Times has learnt.

The move follows meetings the musicians held with Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango.

A source said musicians in Lilongwe and Mzuzu chapters are frustrated with the government for neglecting the arts, hence would want to hold peaceful demonstrations.

“Its frustrating the way the creative industry has been sidelined, much as other things have been looked into. As musicians we feel the government has not been forthcoming,” said the source.

Reverend Mhango confirmed of the meetings he held with the members in Lilongwe and Mzuzu and that next up is a meeting in Blantyre.

“These were fruitful meetings where members came in large numbers. We discussed a lot of issues and it is from there that a suggestion was made for us to hold peaceful demonstrations,” said Mhango.

Early this year, musicians also threatened to go to the streets following the several challenges they were encountering before they met the then culture minister Kondwani Nankhumwa.

But Mhango said on Monday that the musicians’ expectations are that their matters such as the Copyright bill will be tabled.

“There are so many things that have delayed involving the creative industry; you talk of the Copyright bill. Artists are failing to get something from their sweat because of piracy and it is only through this that things will change.

“So musicians want this tabled failing which we will hold peaceful demonstrations,” he said.

Mhango said the government needs to show its commitment to the development of arts.

“Much as we appreciate some developments like cultural policy and the funding which has come up, we feel there is a lot that we need on the ground,” said Mhango.

During the meetings in Mzuzu and Lilongwe, the musicians raised several issues and again came up with several resolutions which include establishing a welfare committee.

“As musicians we need a welfare committee. We are also looking at putting up a calendar of events which will include a memorial day for musicians who passed on.

“With piracy hitting us hard, we are also looking at establishing sub committees to be created in chapters for anti-piracy and resource mobilisation and marketing,” he said.

Mhango said musicians also expressed concern with the way the Culture Ministry is tossed around.

“Every time we have Cabinet reshuffles, Culture always suffers and in that way you cannot expect progress. We need seriousness from the government that culture although it stands out in each and every ministry, it needs to be stable,” he said.

According to Mhango, some of the musicians in Mzuzu also raised issues of contractual agreements which have seen many of them being abused during festivals and other events.

He further said that the creative industry still has challenges with infrastructure where there are a few venues in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

“We used to rely heavily on the French Cultural Centre now Blantyre Cultural Centre but now the centre is in a pathetic state. The government has not helped us, we need more venues. Foreign music is also dominating airwaves, there is a need to look at this if we are to promote our music,” said the Mum President.

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