Covid-19 restrictions push Zimbabwean artistes into poverty

By Kenneth  Matimaire

Zimbabwean artistes have bemoaned the prolonged ban on live shows due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen most creatives going without a reliable source of income for over a year. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa early this month gave artistes the go ahead to stage live shows before audiences of a maximum of 50 people, but the decision was reversed three days later following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, banned all gatherings citing the rising number of infections.

Tawanda Chari, a Mutare-based African contemporary musician, said the temporary lifting of the ban on live shows had given artistes hope that they can rebuild their lives after a very difficult year.

“We had a bit of hope that may be there was light at the end of the tunnel,” said Chari, who is popularly known as WaCharie.

“We were looking forward to adhering to the Covid-19 protocols that say we must have 50 people per show. 

“At least we were going to be able to make a bit of money from it. “But all hope is lost again.” 

WaCharie particularly felt hard done by the ban as he was preparing to unleash his latest offering, a forthcoming album titled Chidzorogodo.

“It’s difficult to push the album in such trying times when most people are struggling to make ends meet due to Covid-19,” he lamented.

“The virtual shows are also a challenge.

“We are praying that the government will consider us just as they have done with other facets of the economy, which have been allowed to operate under strict Covid-19 protocols.”

Clayton Masekesa, Manicaland Union of Musicians secretary general, said the prolonged ban was taking its toll on artistes.

 “The continuous ban on live shows will further plunge musicians into poverty,” Masekesa said.

“Musicians have been reduced to paupers and if there are no corrective measures put in place to cushion the musicians, then the worst is going to happen. 

“It is now almost two years without holding shows and that alone is a punishment for musicians, who rely on live shows. 

“I want to appeal to the relevant authorities to reconsider their decision and allow us to resume live shows.”

He said, alternatively, government can establish a fund to cushion artists during lockdowns.

Arts deputy minister, Tinotenda Machakaire, had lobbied Mnangagwa to allow artistes to resume shows following pleas from musicians, who are battling to make ends meet.

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