Own Correspondent|President Emmerson Mnangagwa completely ignored speaking to the on-going saga around Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna in Matabeleland North when he presided over the official launch of the national culture week in Harare on Saturday.
Presented with an opportunity to publicly address the matter and possibly ease tensions in Bulawayo and Matabeleland region, Mnangagwa completely evaded the subject.
Instead, he took time to shower praises on China which he said has done well to preserve its culture over centuries and spent much of his address talking about his somewhat worthless Political Parties Dialogue.
Chief Ndiweni torched a storm few days ago when he bluntly said western powers were justified in extending sanctions against the Zanu PF led administration whose acts of commission and omission have worsened the plight of suffering locals.
The outspoken traditional leader’s comments invited both verbal and physical attacks by individuals linked to Zanu PF with the chief at one time accosted by some Zanu PF youths in Bulawayo’s CBD.
Mnangagwa hailed the ongoing dialogue with political parties that participated in last year’s Presidential elections under the auspices of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) saying it was part of a deliberate effort to entrench the spirit of unity.
“One of the major priorities of my Government is to cultivate a culture of peace, tranquillity and tolerance. The respect we have for each other as people coming from different cultural backgrounds is what makes us a nation that is resilient, friendly and hospitable,” he said.
“It is part of who we are as African people, as encapsulated in the spirit of hunhu/ubuntu. I urge each one of us to value and maintain the peace that we are enjoying as it is the bedrock upon which our cultural and national identity are derived . . . Violence is not part of our culture and its proponents must be condemned and rejected. The culture of dialogue is embedded in our traditions, which should be preserved and entrenched. It is upon this background that yesterday (Friday) I launched the Political Actors Dialogue.”
The President urged communities to freely participate in commemorating Culture Week — a seven-day event that celebrates the country’s cultural diversity — as it is a key building block of “a peaceful, loving, united, harmonious and prosperous society”.
Government, he added, was committed to facilitating the growth of the arts, culture and heritage sector, including harnessing it as a tool for economic development. President Mnangagwa said piracy, which essentially violates intellectual property rights and copyright laws, has to be condemned by both producers and consumers.
“I encourage the Ministry (of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation) to continue to facilitate the necessary environment that is needed by artistes to produce, package and distribute their goods and services in a manner that enriches all, without prejudicing their creative impulses and energies. The practice of piracy should be condemned and stopped by producers and consumers of all creative arts. Let us work in unison, respecting each other’s ideas intellectual property and copyrights for a viable and profitable sector.”
He said Government will also prioritise the development of facilities for artistes to showcase their work. The new political administration is committed to grow the arts and culture sub-sectors into successful ventures that are able to generate employment and decent livelihoods for communities, he said.
The week-long Culture Week is celebrated through various cultural and artistic expressions. It is commemorated as part of the universal declaration on cultural diversity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
A string of cultural events have been lined up across the country through to May 25 under the theme “The African Royalty — Our Heritage.”