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ARTERIAL NETWORK BLASTS GOVT OVER SNCAC BUDGET

By Nomfundo Sifundza | 2018-03-09

ARTERIAL Network Swaziland has voiced dissatisfaction over the SNCAC budget from government.

The Swaziland National Council (SNCAC) received only E3 313 360. “Arterial Network Swaziland has been disturbed by shocking revelations that when the country is celebrating 50/50 this year, which marks a milestone in development, the arts sector still is treated as a by the way despite displaying uncontested evidence on the role it plays in the socio-economic development of the country,” read a communiqué sent by the Arterial Network Swaziland office coordinator Maswati Dludlu.

“The Swaziland National Council of Arts and Culture (SNCAC) has  reportedly received a meagre E3 313 360, if the national budget speech presented by the minister for finance last Thursday is anything to go by, and has not made a significant increase in the past decade.

 This clearly shows that our government does not take the arts seriously when the sector is lagging behind in all aspects.

This defeats logic because as much we all know that Swaziland is the cultural hub of the world, based on national traditional events and structures, the arts as products of culture should be getting full recognition and support. but it is not the case with our finance minister, despite the fact that from such we can develop cultural industries,” he added.

Dludlu further made an example of the internationally acclaimed MTN Bushfire where the country in a three-day event is able to boost its economy in the name of the arts and statistics have shown even with Swaziland Tourism Authority that all accommodation outlets are booked during this period.

“If Finance Minister, Martin Gobizandla Dlamini, is not aware what the arts sector needs the money for, he must understand that the sector is experiencing a wide range of problems which SNCAC needs to address, including the following:

n Lack of arts schools and arts education institutions - Efforts to introduce arts education in public schools are met with an unfriendly environment at all levels and will take ages to do so;

n Lack of proper legislative and policy frameworks – Despite working on it for more than two decades, as we speak the Copyright Bill is not passed into law and we just wonder when such will eventually take place because arts products are abused day in and day out.

There are other legislative and policy frameworks needed in the sector;

n Lack of scholarship to support the arts development - We need arts scholarship so that educated young people can come back to do business and man cultural affairs from the professional point of view;

n Lack of public arts infrastructure - In Mbabane, the Swaziland Theatre Club, which is the only venue accessible by the general populace, is forced to pay rates by the city Council, despite using it to acquire the city status more than 15 years ago and government is not intervening.

In communities, development does not include friendly development plans for the arts sector where upcoming artists can find a platform to express themselves.

The list of problems is endless, and as a result we see a lot of importation of foreign cultural contents in our broadcast media houses, funded by Swazi taxpayers monies, much against the international law signed by governments. The typical example is that of Swazi TV, which up to now she can still not play a local drama, but have all the guts to buy outdated drama programme from South Africa. Really this sounds like an insult.”

Dludlu said if SNCAC is not given enough resources, these problems will remain a stumbling block to the sector. He raised concern that the money for SNCAC should also reach arts associations.

“A number of them exist but are not getting government subvention and it is high time that these associations are given cash to run their affairs.

“The current set up is not friendly at all and needs to be revisited. Arts associations should own offices and staff to build a donor confidence and it does not make sense that money is sourced by doing a project, and how the project is managed becomes the burden of the association. This is wrong,” cried Dludlu.

“We are calling all those concerned with the development of the arts, including the MPs, to make sure that this budget is not passed the way it is.  That is the ‘honourable’ thing they need to do before they leave office. Artists themselves must also learn to take up their own issues with government collectively. Nothing will help them unless they help themselves,” he concluded.

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