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Nahec taskforce plans march to Parliament

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National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) taskforce is set to march to Parliament on March 7 2022.

The taskforce’s chairperson Maxwell Chiphinga, popularly known as Max DC, confirmed the development Tuesday saying, through the march, they would present a petition to Parliament.

“We are calling it an awareness march to engage with Parliament on the importance of the Nahec Bill which, once passed, will pave the way for the establishment of Nahec,” Chiphinga, who is also National Theatre Association of Malawi (Ntam) President, said.

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He said they had a fruitful stakeholders’ planning meeting in Lilongwe Tuesday, when members agreed to go for an awareness march where 150 members from all artistic disciplines will participate.

The awareness march follows another petition that a group of creatives presented to Parliament last year on the same issue which was received by legislators Billy Kaunda and Mike Bango.

“It is true that the petition was presented to Parliament last year but we, as a taskforce, feel there is no progress hence building up with this awareness march. We have exhausted all dialogue channels,” he said.

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The taskforce had, on February 11 2022, a virtual meeting with Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife officials where they wanted to, among other things, understand the steps the ministry was taking to ensure that Nahec Bill is presented and tabled in Parliament.

According to the minutes which arts & culture has seen, the taskforce also wanted to be well informed so that they understand where the challenges were for them to complement the ministry’s efforts in getting Nahec Bill passed.

The minutes also indicate that the taskforce wants Nahec Bill to be passed as it will help in spearheading the growth of the creative industry including building and rehabilitation of arts spaces citing Blantyre Cultural Centre, which is in sorry state.

The minutes indicate that the officials from the ministry who were present were principal secretary Chauncy Simwaka, Humphrey Mpondaminga (Director of Arts) and Anganile Nthakomwa.

Mpondaminga confirmed of the development yesterday but could not shed more light.

Simwaka, in his response, appreciated the role that the taskforce was playing in complementing the efforts of the ministry in ensuring that Nahec Bill is taken to Parliament and underlined the importance of the bill to the Department of Arts.

He said he was happy that all stakeholders in the creative and heritage sectors had agreed in principle to the contents of the Nahec Bill.

Simwaka then highlighted the processes involved between bill drafting and presentation and said that, when the bill was presented to Ministry of Justice, it became that ministry’s project.

In the minutes, Simwaka revealed that five bills were presented to the Ministry of Justice and that, out of these, two bills, namely Classification and Standards and Lotteries and Gambling, had been finalised and that the Ministry of Justice indicated that they were ready to present them to Cabinet committee before submitting them to full Cabinet and Parliament.

Simwaka also informed the taskforce that having presented a bill to Parliament, there is a provision for 21 days for a bill to be discussed by legislators, adding that even if Nahec Bill were ready, it was not practically possible to have Parliament table it in the current meeting since this is specifically a budget meeting of Parliament.

He said Ministry of Justice had indicated that Nahec Bill was not yet finalised but there was an assurance that it would be done and presented in Parliament in the next meeting of Parliament in April 2022.

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