By Admire Kudita
Recently, African Union (AU) member states endorsed the draft statute of the African Audio Visual and Cinema Commission (AACC) to boost the African film industry. Ministers of Arts and Culture met in Kenya to endorse the draft. AACC was established in 2016 as a specialised agency of the AU. The establishment and the endorsement of the statutes is the result of concerted efforts led by the government of Kenya, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (Fepaci) currently hosted by Kenya. A temporary secratariat for commission is also hosted in Kenya. According to Fepaci media release: The African Audiovisual and Cinema Commission (AACC) will be responsible for the promotion of the rapid development of the African audiovisual and cinema industry and shall encourage creation of appropriate structures at the national, regional and continental levels; strengthen cooperation between African states in the area of audiovisual and cinema; and promote the use of audiovisual and cinematic expressions as factors of job creation, integration, solidarity, respect of values and mutual understanding in order to foster peace, a positive image of Africa, and prevent conflicts. In view of this development, IndependentXtra’s Admire Kudita (AK) interviewed Paul Damasane (pd), the principal director in the Rural development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage ministry, which is responsible for the arts and culture portfolio in Zimbabwe.
AK: I have a few questions for you.
PD: Throw them at me, let us have a go at them
AK: Was Zimbabwe a signatory to the AU’s draft statute recently signed in Kenya of the African Audiovisual and Cinema Commission meant to boost the film industry?
PD: There was no statute signed. It was drawn up and is yet to be presented to higher authorities in the AU. I was there just for the record.
AK: What is the minister’s vision for the Zimbabwean creative sector, for there has been a deafening silence in the public domain on his behalf or is it lack of coverage?
PD: Lack of coverage. We are getting there. Follow through as the NACZ board clarifies that. We are working on an RRA and the development of Cultural Statistics with ZIMSTATS for the creative and cultural sector.
AK: There are widespread sentiments about his seeming apathy, for instance, he has not held any meetings with members of the African films sector to hear their concerns since assuming office. What is he thinking?
PD: He is yet to meet the artistes in Bulawayo, but has met some in Harare. Thanks for asking.
AK: Not meeting with artistes in the so-called hub of creativity is somewhat telling. Why has it taken him almost four years to come down here and meet with artistes to inform stakeholders about his vision?
l The last question had not been responded at the time of going to print and one hopes that the creative sector will some day be considered as one that poses a viable option for generating employment and boosting the economy. The audiovisual and cinema industry contributes US$5 billion in continental GDP and is said to employ an estimated five million people currently, according Fepaci. Industry players expect a quantum growth of up to 20 million jobs and US$20 billion contribution to continental GDP over the next few years due to the concerted efforts of stakeholders to galvanise the sector. The AACC is a constituent of a four-programme ecosystem tasked with mobilising US$410 million in programme funds for the promotion of the film industry over a five year spread. The funds are expected to be raised from private and public sectors with implementation by the private sector.