Can minister Langa live up to the challenge?

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JUST after the Sport, Arts and Culture minister honourable Andrew Langa’s grand consultative breakfast meeting in Harare a few weeks ago, an arts journalist called me requesting that I put my thoughts down on how the Sport, Arts and Culture ministry could raise money to support the development of artists and sports people.

Andrew-langa

– Cont Mhlanga

I did not see this question as important as I thought the minister should just go to the Finance ministry, present his budget, get the money and get down to business.

There was nothing to write about, so I forgot about the subject.

It was not until this past week when the minister mentioned that his ministry had presented a budget of $46m to fund the Zone V1 games to be hosted in the City of Bulawayo in December next year to the same Finance ministry that had dismally failed to allocate funding to sport, arts and culture for the past 33 years.

My interest on the subject of funding sport arts and culture was once again aroused. Already, a journalist friend of mine in Harare is complaining that $46m is too much to be spent in Bulawayo developing sports.

Given the attitude of the economists and accountants at the Finance ministry, my friend is right.

The economic fundis at the Finance ministry could not even finance national teams, who have to beg from individuals to struggle on, let alone finance the grassroots development of the same.

If the Finance ministry do not see any logic in putting the country’s last dollar to fund the national flag to fly high at the global market platforms how then can they fund some development of sport, arts and culture activity in some remote area of Zimbabwe like Gokwe, Tshelanyemba or Nyanga and many other such places?

It then dawned to me that the question of minister Langa having to raise money to drive the development and growth of sport, arts and culture from elsewhere and not the Finance ministry was crucial.

In fact, that is where the minister’s focus should be in the first 24 months of his office as the ministry responsible for finance can only fund his staff’s pay cheque.

It was, however, when I studied for the fun of it, the new national economic agenda detailed in Zim Asset where the national vision is well spelt out that I then realised that minister Langa has a bigger challenge than we all realise.

His ministry has been completely left out of the national economic agenda.

All other ministries in government have been allocated clear key result areas in the outcomes and outputs of the cluster matrix, but not minister Langa’s ministry.

This clearly means that the overall assumption of the Zim Asset plan is that sport, arts and culture have no role to play in the country’s guiding vision, “Towards an Empowered Society and a Growing Economy”.

For the Sport, Arts and Culture ministry to be left out of the Zim Asset plan has a lot of complex implications for the next five years for the development and growth of sport, arts and culture sector in the country.

The assumption by the liberation party Zanu PF, its politburo and its government is that sport, arts and culture had no role to play in the turning around of the country’s economy and can never be an important pillar of the Zimbabwean economy.

On this point, the revolutionary party is wrong.

Sport, arts and culture can be a critical pillar of the Zimbabwean economy, more so now that the country faces challenges of liquidity to fuel its economic activity.

The challenge is that the country’s economists and its education is still stuck in old school economy textbooks and its economist commentators and advisors are a generation of old boys who grew up in Rhodesia’s cigarette economy of the fifties, sixties and seventies within a Rhodesian culture that the world was not interested in.

The world economy is no longer in the fifties, sixties and seventies! Dump those old school textbooks and create new relevant ones that speak to the current situation of our local and global demands.

Let me digress a bit from the challenge faced by minister Langa to pass a comment on the Zim Asset document.

This plan is so good that if implemented to the letter with little adjustments here and there, it will sure provide the country with a solid foundation that will drive it into a position of economic boom in the shortest period of time.

In fact, this document and plan is too dangerous for Zanu PF who crafted it.

If our opposition parties, particularly the MDCs, were serious with opposition politics they would just turn this document towards its authors come 2018 elections and they would take Zanu PF to the cleaners and out of power for a long time to come.