Zimbabwe/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

A historical perspective

At independence a Ministry of Education and Culture which was responsible for administering arts and culture and policies relating to the sector was created. The cultural component was however quickly moved to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Culture and Recreation in 1981. The newly created Department of Culture struggled to fit in the new ministry which had become so engrossed in implementing youth programmes which were an important instrument for strengthening the ruling party’s political structures.

The Department of Culture did not manage all aspects of arts and culture. Some vital wings of culture were scattered in other ministries.

  • Museums and Monuments Commission, the National Archives and the  Censorship Board were managed under the Ministry of Home Affairs;
  • the audio visual services had remained with under the Ministry of Education; 
  • audio-visual industries and broadcasting institutions were managed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  • Traditional chiefs and the Chiefs Council were in the Ministry of Local Government;
  • The Ministry of  Legal Affairs was responsible for copyright issues,  and
  • The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education was responsible for teacher education and UNESCO. This is still the situation with cultural institutions- they remain scattered in many difference ministries.

A cabinet reshuffle in early 1990s saw the return of the Department of Culture back to the Ministry of Education. Chifunyise (2011) narrates that after the return,

 ‘ the Department of Culture found itself spending a long period of time trying to relate to  new administrative structures that were dominantly  focused  on the education function and which at provincial level could not provide leadership to the provincial cultural officers who had moved back to the ministry . The return of the culture function to the Ministry of Education was seen by senior officers in education at the district and provincial level  as indication that it was an insignificant function   which could not be accommodate and  whose return was to burden the   all important education function. Just as there had been resistance to the  introduction  of  cultural and sports education into the formal school curriculum , most of what the Division of Culture  was advancing was not considered essential to  achieve  dominant  objectives of education  the ministry was expected  to achieve.’

In 1994, a new Ministry of Sports Recreation and Culture was established. This ministry had to oversee some of the responsibilities around arts and culture. In 1998 the cultural and sport function of this ministry were merged with the Ministry of Education to create the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. Again in this ministry arts and culture remained overshadowed by ‘important’ sections such as sports and education hence the continued absence of a well consolidated cultural policy.

In 2009 the Global Political Agreement brought about a government of national unity and the establishment of the Ministry of Education Sport, Arts and Culture. Following that, the importance of a fully-fledged administrative structure for Sport, Arts and Culture was recognised   by   the appointment of a Principal Director for sport, arts and culture; the director for arts and culture and the director for sport. This led to appointment of arts and culture officers at provincial and district level even though some of these were teachers transferred to the sport, arts and culture functions. According to Mr. Mutuvira, who is the current Director of Culture, the Department was created as a result of a realisation of the importance of the creative economy and the contribution of creative industries to the economic well being of many countries.

Current state of cultural governance structures in Zimbabwe: Characteristics

Fragmentation

At national level the governance of arts and culture activities in Zimbabwe is segmented to the following ministries: Education, Sport, Arts and Culture (the arts, arts education, the National Arts Council, the National Gallery, the National Library and Documentation Services) Home Affairs (Heritage sector- Museums and Monuments, National Archives, Censorship Board) Justice, Legal and parliamentary Affairs (copyright legislation), Information and Publicity (audio-visual industries-broadcasting, TV, film and music recording industry), Local Government (Chiefs and local authorities), Medium and Small Enterprises industries (national handcrafts centre) Environment and Tourism (cultural tourism), Higher and Tertiary Education (UNESCO and arts teacher education), Environment and Natural Resources Management (natural heritage sites), Health and Child Welfare (ZINATHA, traditional midwives), Agriculture (herbal medicine, Indigenous Knowledge Systems-indigenous varieties) and Foreign Affairs (Cultural Diplomacy).

However, the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture remains the main government Ministry that draws national cultural policies. This is done in consultation with the Department of Arts and Culture that was established in 2007. However an interview with Mr. Mutuvira who is currently a Director working in the Department of Arts and Culture revealed that this department hardly works in collaboration with departments and parastatals managed by other ministries with an arts and cultural mandate. In fact up to date there is no structure or committee put in place by the government to harmonise the activities of these departments.

The absence of structures to relate to all institutions and departments that are responsible for some cultural functions, has led to efforts of conceiving   and formulating a national cultural policy to be ineffective. Most of the initiatives made by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture are clearly not national and cannot be presented to Cabinet and other ministries with responsibilities for culture.

Parastatals

The various ministries that have an arts and culture mandate have parastatals that help to manage arts and culture. By definition these are quasi-government institutions which are partly or wholly owned by the government. Below is a list of some of the parastatals created by the government to administer arts and culture:

1. National Handicraft Centre

The mission statement of the National Handicraft Centre (NHC) is to be the leading supplier of quality craft for export and for sale in Zimbabwe through relating directly with crafts people and to alleviate poverty through fair trade. It is managed by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises.

2. National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) is a statutory body that was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1985. Its major task is to spearhead the promotion and development of the arts in Zimbabwe. NACZ co-ordinates and supports the development of the arts and cultural activities. NACZ’s statutory mandate is to foster, develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and practise of the arts in Zimbabwe by encouraging the teaching and practise of the arts and their presentation, performance, execution and exhibition to the public. It is managed under the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

3. National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe

This is a statutory body created in

4. National Gallery of Zimbabwe

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is a statutory body that was set up by the National Gallery Act of 1953. It was officially opened to the public in 1957. It is currently managed under the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

5. Censorship Board

This structure was inherited from the colonial government. It was first established in 1932 by the Entertainments Control and Censorship Act. Their main functions at that time were confirmed to the scrutiny of films and film advertisements. Its functions have evolved over time with the modifications and updating of this piece of legislation in 1967; 1974 and 1996 when it became Chapter 10:04. It is currently managed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

All these institutions are managed by various Boards put in place by Ministers responsible for the various ministries where they belong. For instance:

      According to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Act section 4(1) The Board shall consist of—

(a) ten members appointed by the Minister of whom—…..

       According to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Act section 5 (1) The Board shall consist of not less than five and not more than eleven members who shall be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the President and in accordance with any directions the President may give him.

      According to the National Museums & Monuments of Zimbabwe Act section 5 (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Board shall consist of such members, being not less than five in number, as may be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the President and in accordance with any directions the President may give him.

      According to the Censorship and Entertainment Act section 3 (1) The Minister shall appoint a board, to be known as the Board of Censors, to perform the functions entrusted to it under this Act.

As clearly outlined above, all parastatal Boards are appointed by Ministers, which Ministers are government appointees with political affiliations. This makes most of the Board members, if not all of them to be also close to the ruling party. Their allegiance belongs to the ruling party. These parastatals are more of a political structure of the government than ‘arm’s length’ organisations. They are in fact statutory bodies and as such they are inclined more towards regulation than development and promotion of arts and culture.

In 2010 the Cabinet approved draft proposals for the restructuring of parastatals in order to improve service deliver. However very little progress is being made in this regard. This section is part of an unpublished research report prepared by Florence Majachani for Nhimbe Trust in 2012.

At national level the governance of arts and culture activities in Zimbabwe is segmented to the following ministries: Education, Sport, Arts and Culture (the arts, arts education, the National Arts Council, the National Gallery, the National Library and Documentation Services) Home Affairs (Heritage sector- Museums and Monuments, National Archives, Censorship Board) Justice, Legal and parliamentary Affairs (copyright legislation), Information and Publicity (audio-visual industries-broadcasting, TV, film and music recording industry), Local Government (Chiefs and local authorities), Medium and Small Enterprises industries (national handcrafts centre) Environment and Tourism (cultural tourism), Higher and Tertiary Education (UNESCO and arts teacher education), Environment and Natural Resources Management (natural heritage sites), Health and Child Welfare (ZINATHA, traditional midwives), Agriculture (herbal medicine, Indigenous Knowledge Systems-indigenous varieties) and Foreign Affairs (Cultural Diplomacy).

However, the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture remains the main government authority that draws national cultural policies. It has a department of Arts and Culture that was established in 2007. The Department of Arts and Culture works closely with parastatals under it to manage arts and culture and to implement arts and cultural activities at the national level. For example the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the National Art Gallery and the National Library and Information Services as its parastatals that deals with arts and culture. These parastatals are more of a political structure of the government than ‘arm’s length’ organisations.

In 2010 the Cabinet approved draft proposals for the restructuring of parastatals in order to improve service deliver. However very little progress is being made in this regard.


Chapter published: 27-08-2012


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