Swaziland
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SOME LOCAL CREATIVES SHOW INTEREST IN ELECTIONS

MBABANE – The Entertainment Desk has noted that there are creatives who are interested in joining the 2023 Nation Elections.

An investigation that was carried out by the Entertainment Department revealed that there are actually more creatives who are willing to take advantage of their popularity to compete in the upcoming elections. Some of these creatives willingly declared that they were interested in competing in the elections, while others hid their interest. The creatives who are willing to represent their communities shared that they were driven by the goal of becoming a voice for the local industry, as currently the arts sector lacks a strong and creative voice that can fight for the sustainability of the industry. A veteran in the local industry, Lutfo Dlamini, who is the current Swaziland Arts and Music Association (SWAMA) President, is also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Ndzingeni Constituency. Dlamini shared with this publication that the elections are open to all creatives, and they should take advantage so that they can represent the interests of the industry.

Elections

“All artists should go and register for the elections so that they stand a chance to vote for a person of their choice to represent them in office and shape the political landscape. Secondly, if some of these artists are nominated, I would advise that they follow the steps of other artists who were once elected to office. We have seen people like Macford Sibandze represent the industry well in Parliament, as well as key ministers. My hands are open for those artists who would need advice should they be nominated for office. We are veterans of the industry, and we know most of the issues that they might encounter while in office, and we are willing to help,” Dlamini said.

He went on to say that, currently, the local industry was lacking a strong voice that will represent artists in Parliament. “If you become a parliamentarian, you are not confined to just one constituency, but you will now be doing national work. The national work includes reshaping artist policies; if people do notice, they will remember that we used to fight for artists in Parliament, but it was only a few of us. So I think if we were to grow in numbers in Parliament, we would be able to fight successfully for artists in the country. Politics is about lobbying, which is a process where we look at how many people are fighting for a common cause.”

Dlamini went on to say that artists should join the elections, and once they are in Parliament, they will be able to fight and possibly come out victorious. The arts industry still needs serious recognition by those in authority; people in power need to realise that this is an industry that has shaped a lot of countries. “This is evident in overseas countries, where governments pump in a lot of money to this industry, so we are praying that if more artists join in the elections, there will be more voices that will say pump in more money to the industry.

Vision

In addition, let’s have people with a vision running the industry, because currently we have some of those people who do not have a vision for the local industry. This makes it difficult for our artists to strive under such conditions. Our industry continues to lack a voice because there are very few of us trying to advocate for it,” Dlamini added. Mzwakhe Khumalo, popularly known as Tjovitjo, is currently competing to be the Ward Councillor for the Malkerns Town Board. He is a well-known MC, who echoed MP Dlamini’s words that the industry still lacks representation. He added that if he wins as a ward councillor, he will further compete for the mayor’s position. “We have a lot of talent in this country, but most people do not get the opportunity, and some are not prepared because we do not have art schools that can help develop the skills. Having talent is one thing, but developing it is another, and so to have a proper development plan, we need to have the facilities to enhance it and we need to create a proper environment for such growth.” Khumalo went on to say that to create an environment, they need to create proper legislation. “We need to have people strategically positioned to be the voice of the art in strategic levels, be it at policy formulation, decision-making level, execution level, or at the courts where the law that goes with creatives is interpreted or is being drafted.

Terms

“We need people who have a background in the art industry, like Qibho, who is an attorney, so we need relevant people, as they know what the industry needs. They have also been used, and they grew from that experience; hence, they need to be there and be the voice for the voiceless artists,” Tjovitjo said. “We also need a voice as a creative industry in terms of policy and legislation around the industry to make sure that we bridge the gaps that are there regarding regulation in entertainment in the kingdom of knowledge and appreciate the work done by those who were in the positions before, but I think it is also time to give a chance to other people to give it a try if it were as automatic as that.” Khumalo went on to say that there are projects that he is busy with at the moment.

He also shared with this publication that he is into local government: “I’m vying for elections in my ward in Malkerns, and I’m going for a Ward Councillor in Malkerns Town Board. If  all goes well in the chambers, in case they want me to be their mayor, I would also take that willingly because even at the local government level, we need theatres in almost all the towns in the country, and we also need accessibility to entertainment houses, and we need to avail ourselves an opportunity for all those in the industry to be able to get the platform,” added Tjovitjo. As a veteran in the industry, he shared that, with the experience vested in him, he would be interested in vying for the elections. “I’m a willing horse because I’ve been in the industry for some time. I’ve been in the industry for over a decade, and there are things that I can attest to, and some were lessons for me that I would not want people creating a career to experience.

Frustration

“We need to lay a proper foundation for them to go through and have their art taken to the world out there with less frustration than we have had. I used to be an MC, where I was paid with food and they would sometimes not give me money for transport, but we have grown through those experiences, and we would like to work together with those who are entering the industry so that they cannot experience this.” He advised that the public should come together and spread positive vibes around the industry rather than work more on collaborations at all levels. “We need to have our voice in Parliament; we need to have our voice in the local municipality; we need to have our voice at all the different levels where people are organised, be it at central or local government; we need to have the voice of the artists. It should not only be about performing where we can get paid peanuts, and no one knows the relevant remuneration for an artist after having performed on the stage open in Parliament,” Tjovitjo said.

Scara Maziya, a Gospel musician who has shared the stage with the likes of Nduduzo Matse, Takie Ndou, Sphiwo Ndoni, Phetsile Masilela, and Nothando Dlamini, shared with this publication that people should not seek to be elected, but the responsibility to elect an individual lies with the community. “An election is not something that you should search for as a person. Once you seek it, you will fail, as you might find yourself chasing your interests instead of doing the job that the community has sent you to do. My community at LamGabhi Bhunya is willing to send me to represent them in the upcoming elections. They want to nominate me as their potential headman (indvuna).

Competition

I grew up in this community, and I have done a lot of things in this community. If I can recall, I once did a Zion competition three times, and this year it will continue as an annual event. I have also been doing my festivals in the community; I have never hosted in other towns but only in this community. When I started doing an event at LaMgabhi, I said that we were building our own,” Maziya said. He added that a community will always send someone they see fit to carry out the duties of being their voice. “If a community sends an individual to represent them in Parliament, they are aware of the amount of work that is vested in you. They won’t send you if they see that the work will be a heavy burden for you. This is more like a mother sending her daughter to fetch water in the stream. The mother will know if 10 litters or 20 litres will be suitable for the daughter; she can’t expect the daughter to fetch water amounting to 50 litres when she knows her maximum strength.

The struggle that I had while trying to get into the industry made me realise that if I get an opportunity to open doors for others, It will be because of the difficulty that exists when trying to get into the industry. “I never wanted to be the only Zion member who has recorded a project in this community; hence, I also helped others to record,” Maziya added.