SEVERAL local artistes are likely to be hit hard following cancellation of their programmes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday banned public gatherings of over 100 people in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 after declaring the pandemic a national disaster.
BY SHARON SIBINDI/ PRECIOUS CHIDA/ Simbarashe sithole
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare and several artistes including sungura maestro Alick Macheso cancelled their shows and programmes until further notice.
In a statement, NGZ said the tribute to the late musician Chioniso Maraire dubbed “The Rebel Woman Experience”, which had been scheduled for March 27 has been cancelled.
“Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the government has instructed that the NGZ closes to the public until further notice,” reads the statement in part.
Macheso’s publicist Tich Makahamadze yesterday said: “We have suspended all our shows until further notice due to coronavirus and we urge the public to get as much information about the pandemic and avoid risky behaviour.”
NGZ Bulawayo director, Butholezwe Nyathi, however yesterday urged artistes affected by the restrictions to take advantage of the situation to produce artworks on the prevention of the outbreak and share them on social media.
His remarks came after artistes on Tuesday held a meeting at the NGZ Bulawayo where they raised concern that they had lost opportunities to generate incomes through international and local performances during this period.
“This is the time for creatives to release music tracks, dramas and videos to raise awareness on the virus.
“You don’t need to ask for permission. The information is already there. Just release your products and make them reach the people out there via social media platforms. That’s an opportunity for you,” Nyathi said.
Nkululeko Nkala, an artiste and member of Intwasa, echoed the same sentiments.
“At the moment, before anyone takes claim, this is our money guys… This is our money as creatives, so let’s make the best out of it,” he said.
“Let’s stand up, work together to write tracks, dramas and make very good projects out of this. We can also go and educate people in the rural areas through edutainment out of this.”
The ban includes weddings, church gatherings, sporting events and national celebrations and comes in the wake of reports that a United Kingdom tourist who visited Victoria Falls last week, tested positive for COVID-19 upon his return home.
“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gathering and activities. In that respect, government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, all national Independence Day celebrations previously planned,” Mnangagwa said.
He added that resources originally earmarked for the events would be redirected towards strengthening defences against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Ster Kinekor Zimbabwe early this week said it was set to introduce the “In-Cinema seat separation” method in its cinemas across the country as a means to counter the spread of the virus.
The cinemas will be revamped as they place seats away from each other, leaving a space of one chair in-between.
“Your health is our number one concern. After a thorough risk assessment and analysis of the global cinema market, we are implementing ‘In-cinema seat separation’ as part of measures to encourage effective social distancing in cinemas, be sure to adhere to prompts effected,” Ster Kinekor said on their Facebook platform.