Generational renewal needed to resuscitate the Museum institution in Zimbabwe

AFTER reading National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) deputy director and chief curator, Raphael Chikukwa’s comments in the NewsDay during the International Museums day, one would be quick to agree with Chikukwa that the Museums in Zimbabwe are indeed ailing as a result of poor management. I personally applaud Chikukwa for his honesty, especially in a system that does not take criticism in a professional manner.

By Roy Muroyi

The only question one would ask is, is Chikukwa not part of the Museums management as well? Especially considering the fact that museums also have galleries within themselves. If so then Chikukwa is also part of the crew that is poorly managing our museums and galleries, according to his own confession.

The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) has been embodied in unending corruption scandals and the same management of Godfrey Mahachi and Manyika has been shielded by the government even after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) had made some very saddening revelations regarding corrupt tendencies in their administration.

The NewsDay has further reported that Mahachi made headlines when he swindled funds that were meant to develop the late Joshua Nkomo’s statue. The statue was made in Korea were Mahachi looked for cheaper and inefficient developers. The case was to become political as many argued that it was a direct effort from Zanu PF to discredit Joshua Nkomo. This was to be further cemented by the placing of the statue in front of Karigamombe building. A building that was named in shona “Karigamombe” which is literally translated means “kudonhedza Nkomo/making Nkomo fall”

The National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia Act (1972) which is now called the National Museums and Monuments Act (Chapter 25:11). NMMZ is a Parastatal, funded through grant by central government and falling under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The institution has been put under direct Zanu PF control, with all of its board members being either Zanu PF sympathisers of Zanu PF big wigs. Appointed in 2008 the board comprises of The board comprises Great Zimbabwe University vice-chancellor Obert Maravanyika, Chief Supt Oliver Mandipaka, Chief George Chimombe, Sarah Feresu, Oswald Madziva, Joel Zowa, Rtd. Brigadier Ngulu, Jacob Chademana, Cassian Mutsambiwa and Stanford Bonyongwe. Most of the members have been fingered in corruption at National level. The management of the organisation is undertaken by the director and deputy director who report to the Board of Trustees mentioned above.

The NMMZ management was reported in the Zaac report as paying themselves hefty salaries at the expense of the rest of the employees in the institution. The institution which is run as a non-profit has also had to deal with its coffers being sucked dry by the management buying themselves top of the range cars to use during Zanu PF election campaigns. Mahachi himself has prophesied ignorance over these cases besides NMMZ employees complaining. This is a clear sign that the management has dismally failed to deal with the rot in the administration. At a point when Zimbabwe and the rest of the African continent is going through a generational leadership renewal, the failed administration such as the NMMZ administration should also give new blood with new ideas to change the fortunes of the museum institution.

In the broadest of terms the four main categories of museum funding are government grants, private donations, earned revenue and investment income. Being a non-profit making institution does not hinder one from stitching together sustainable revenue streams from a range of sources, while being as much at the whim of the marketplace as for profit enterprises. These market place ideas can only come from young people who have travelled the world and are learned enough to understand and implement developmental ideas without a political hand direction them.

America has some of the best museums in the world, not because America has got money, in actual fact American museums are funded precariously. The difference between American museums and most of the world is that the museum curators are efficient and are mostly called into the profession by passion. Government money that is sourced from well wishers is used to develop the institution, not to by campaign cars as is the situation with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. The Zanu PF system of nepotism and patronage has destroyed this institution as the board and the management are all working in co-host with Zanu PF after having gained the privileges of being in those positions under a Zanu PF ticket.

The bad economy Zimbabwe is facing today should force the museums to display their entrepreneurial side, cutting here, re-adjusting there, creating new revenue streams in order to sustain and grow their institutions or at least make sure their employees’ bonuses and salaries are paid on time.

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1 Comment

  1. Comment…The Directors are so corrupt to an extent that they undertake to do duties meant to be done by their surbodinates so that they award theselves with hefty travel and subsistence claims. Most of them are nearing retirement and they are finding ways to fill their pockets before they go home. Its high time that we have leadership renewal within the institution. Nepotism is the order of the day in NMMZ.

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