Over the past decade, Zimbabwe has seen important developments in the field of culture, namely through the creation of their Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and promotion of Culture and Heritage in 2015 and the adoption of their National Cultural Policy in 2016. Such recent governmental efforts have somewhat improved the participation of civil society in the cultural sector. Important initiatives from civil society have included the National Plan of Action for Arts and Culture (2012) spearheaded by Nhimbe Trustlaying the aspirations and concerns of the creative sector and the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust set up in 2006 to provide financial support to cultural professionals and artists. Both of these projects and two other NGOs have received funding in recent years from UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD).
Some important challenges remain, however, with the need to further revise other policy areas, including in the domain of broadcasting, to ensure that the media sector is fully conducive to artistic freedom and diverse cultural expressions.
This capacity-building project is therefore timely for Zimbabwe amidst these recent changes in the cultural policy landscape. It offers an opportunity to ensure that these changes align with international standards by raising awareness of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention while also ensuring increasing dialogue between civil society and the government. The project also provides much-needed training on data collection, indicator building and periodic reporting to ensure participatory and evidence-based policy-making in the country.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and UNESCO Harare organized on 4 November 2015 a consultation meeting in Harare. Honourable A. Ncube, Minister of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of National Culture and Heritage, and Dr Chitepo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of National Culture and Heritage made opening remarks. The meeting gathered around 43 participants representing various government ministries and culture sectors and had the purpose to inform the main objectives of the project and raise awareness on the 2005 Convention. During the consultation meeting, the participants engaged in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the 2005 Convention and the Zimbabwean context. The strengths included the decentralization of arts and culture festivals; the high percentage of locally produced cultural content in the broadcasting services; and the training of arts and culture practitioners available. Conversely, the participants raised the following as weakness: the lack of structured monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of the creative industry; unfavorable and poorly coordinated policies; incessant flow of cultural expression images from developed countries; high taxation on cultural products and inadequate funding for arts and culture. The participants agreed with the importance of creating synergies in their respective work in pursuit of the need to create ease of data collection and collation in cultural expressions. The National Arts Council was given the task of spearheading the entire process.
The experts facilitated the training workshop for 23 members of the national team from 8 to 10 December 2015 in Harare. The national team of Zimbabwe consisted of representatives from various ministries, public institutions and civil society organizations. The workshop was conducted in a participatory manner, providing maximum time for group discussion and group exercises. At the end of the workshop, the national team decided to divide the work on data collection, monitoring and indicator-building, by nominating a thematic leader and group members. The following seven thematic groups were created: cultural policy, international cultural cooperation, preferential treatment, culture in sustainable development, civil society, transversal issues and UNESCO, and data collection.
Since the end of the workshop in December 2015, the thematic groups worked to collect data and information. The national team came together to ask questions/guidance to the experts during the process and this periodic report drafting work continued until June 2016. The public presentation of the periodic report took place on 23 June 2016 in Harare with the presence of a various representatives of ministries, public institutions, civil society organizations and media institutions, including Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Newsday, and Red Rose Entertainment, which were able to provide their inputs. After feedback was incorporated, The report was submitted to UNESCO on 30 June 2016.