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Parliamentary committee concedes Arts Council Bill long overdue

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Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs has acknowledged that the National Arts and Heritage Council (Nahec) Draft Bill is long overdue.

The committee Wednesday met, for the second time, the Nahec Draft Bill taskforce in Lilongwe in a follow-up meeting.

“We are so determined to make it into a law but there are a number of things that we wanted to look at in detail. We analysed the draft bill itself and want to make sure that there are no anomalies,” chairperson for the committee Savel Kafwafwa said in an interview.

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In their scrutiny, Kafwafwa said they found that there are some lines that need to be perfected as well as further consultations with other stakeholders.

“This is a mother council which will be a parastatal and, so, all stakeholders and councils attached need to be in. Now we are able to move forward and will call other stakeholders and hear from them. Otherwise, our target is to make sure that the bill gets to Parliament in the next budget meeting in February next year,” Kafwafwa said.

Nahec Draft Bill Taskforce Chairperson Maxwell Chiphinga described the meeting with the committee as productive and that they were given a few pointers for the draft bill’s improvement.

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Creatives continue to lobby for the enactment of the draft bill, which will lead to the creation of Nahec.

“There is progress for sure. We also had Legal Affairs Committee members, who shared insights into areas that need revisiting to avoid drawbacks in future,” Chiphinga said.

He said they will sit down with their line ministry (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife) and other stakeholders to look into spaces that need improvement.

“We need to be clear on some tasks in the draft bill which can bring cracks and divisions in future and then there are also existing laws related to creative works. For instance, we have the Museums Council, Copyright Society of Malawi and others,” Chiphinga said.

Another member of the taskforce Ron Muphuwa, who is Malawi Union of Academic and Non-Fiction Authors President, described the meeting as successful.

“We have made the case for the Nahec Draft Bill. The honourable members have given their insights which will assist us in further engagements with stakeholders involved in drafting the bill,” Muphuwa said.

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