Mwana asingachemi anofira mumbereko!
This Shona saying, which loosely translates to “an infant who doesn’t cry dies in the baby carrier”, is rich.
What it truly communicates is that one must not suffer silently – be it because of starvation, illness, social problems or simply discomfort.
When a baby is hungry, it cries. When the temperatures are either too high or too low for its comfort – it cries. Should it get wet – it also cries.
Crying is a way of alerting the mother or carer that there is something wrong.
Today, four giant artists – Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Peter Moyo and Killer T openly “cried” in articles carried by H-Metro and another in Nhau/Indaba Online News.
Macheso said he has gone to the extent of slaughtering beasts at his farm and getting maize meal as well to feed his band members and their families. That is sad.
The artists have not worked a day since the lockdown meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus began in March. Promises of a cushioning allowance have yielded nothing while going against the regulations attracts a heavy fine.
Some have tried doing online shows but there is fatigue these days on that front.
These musical giants, of course, represent a large constituency, whose voices remain stifled as they fear retribution from those who may feel like they are being attacked or blamed for the artists’ misery.
The musicians and other performing artists are not alone in this predicament – bar and nightclub owners are crying foul too. They feel ignored by their own Government despite being employers and contributing to State coffers through taxation.
What this aforementioned group of showbiz players cannot comprehend is why their work remains so harshly banned to the extent of not being allowed to have limited crowds.
Peter Moyo even argues that some businesses and the informal markets are seeing much larger crowds than those that would ordinarily attend his shows.
What must have ached these musicians is the silence at the 43rd post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday about their industry when Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced that all forms of gatherings now had a limit of 100 people.
What must have stung them is that these artists are also parents, paying school fees and other services to enable those businesses to stay afloat yet they are having to sell assets just to survive.
Even borders have opened for pedestrians and private vehicles while cross-border buses are now operational.
So why are musicians and the showbiz sector in general still blocked from working? Why are regulations being selective?
How come schools have opened up to ECD level and buses are packed with people travelling all over the country? What has this sector really done to offend the authorities, or cause it to be overlooked when decisions are made?
Is it a case of their ability to lobby? Is it about their parent ministry, the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, which seems more concerned about its other portfolios than the arts and recreation part?
But there is the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ); what has it done to engage Government about the plight of this important sector?
The recreation/arts/showbiz scene is not the only affected economic sector. Commuter omnibus (kombi) owners are crying foul too. But one might say Government has always wanted to deal with the kombi menace and thus the hard stance.
One might also say the kombis have been given a lifeline through the Zupco franchise, which most snubbed, and thus they are to blame for their own misfortune.
Whatever the case – kombi owners too need the protection of their Government.
Twelve years ago the world was plunged into a Global Financial Crisis. We witnessed multi-billion dollar companies being bailed out from South Africa, Asia, the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.
The same has happened during the coronavirus-induced global economic slump. South Africa is giving out loans and ensuring businesses survive.
But what lifeline has been offered to performing artists, and related businesses by the Zimbabwean Government?
How can these affected businesses comply with the tax and licensing obligations while their businesses are not operating? Rentals for the buildings they operate from need to be paid.
Where is the Government protection? Where are the loans to keep these businesses running?
Whatever wrong bar and night club owners did to Government must be forgiven. Day in, day out they are ravaged by greedy and corrupt law enforcement authorities who let shebeens illegally operate in many residential areas across the country.
Under normal circumstances, the festive season would be fully underway by now. These are extra-ordinary times – but surely a caring Government should be able to fashion out a plan for everyone to be fairly content, the arts sector included. Nhau/Indaba