Advocate Mahere pens down: Ask yourself – when was the last time a Zimbabwean artist won a Grammy?

Advocate Mahere pens down: Ask yourself – when was the last time a Zimbabwean artist won a Grammy?

Former legislator of the Citizen Coalition for Change, Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, has penned an open letter to Honorable Kirsty Coventry, Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, highlighting the pressing challenges faced by Zimbabwe’s arts and sports sectors.

Honorable Kirsty Coventry made history in 2018 by becoming the first female Minister of Sports and a former athlete to hold this position in Zimbabwe, appointed by President E. D. Mnangagwa.

In recent times, numerous Zimbabwean soccer players have sought opportunities abroad, venturing to neighboring countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa, while others have journeyed even further to Europe to join European teams.

However, a significant setback has been the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by FIFA, the global football governing body, due to concerns regarding government interference and substandard stadiums. This ban has prevented Zimbabwe from hosting international events.

Advocate Mahere, known for her fervent support of Dynamos football club, decried this development as an “embarrassment,” emphasizing its detrimental impact on grassroots sports. She lamented that Zimbabweans are now labeled as “international orphans” due to the inability to host international sporting events.

Dear Minister Kirsty Coventry,

When you were appointed Minister of Sport and the Arts, Zimbabweans celebrated.

We celebrated because we believed that your competence as an athlete, international sports administrator and passionate Zimbabwean would translate into excellence and sound policy in these important spheres.

Sport and art are crucial for the fostering of national pride, identity and spirit. These bipartisan disciplines help Zimbabweans unite despite creed, colour, political affiliation, gender, tribe or any of the other factors that normally divide us.

As you enter a second term at the helm of this Ministry, our celebration has turned to despair.

Throughout your tenure, national sports  teams including soccer and cricket have been periodically banned from international events. Grassroots sports development is effectively at a standstill. Schools’ sport is not as regionally or continentally competitive as it once was. Our sporting infrastructure is in a sad state of dilapidation and neglect.

Zimbabwe does not have a single functional stadium in which to play or host international soccer matches. We have been forced into the embarrassing position where we have to play international matches “at home” in Rwanda.

So tragic is the crisis in sport that we were not surprised when there was no showing for Zimbabwe’s national soccer team at AFCON.

But we were hurt.

Imagine for a moment how soccer-loving Zimbabweans feel when we cannot wave our flag on such an important stage? Can you fathom what it does to the spirit of the nation when we have to adopt countries to support (because we love the game) and are sometimes insulted with the label “international orphans”? Why do African nations at war manage to participate yet we can’t?

What explanation is there for the incompetence, neglect and poor management of national sport?

Coming to the arts, the crisis is just as bad, if not worse. Ask yourself – when was the last time a Zimbabwean artist won a Grammy? Why are our artists having to pander to dodgy politics and dark characters in order to drive a decent car? Is their desperation not enough to break your heart?

From where we stand, it seems like you say and do very little. Maybe you have disengaged or have failed to sort it all out. We will never know. Nobody apologizes for the failure. We cannot see the efforts to address the problem.

Whatever the case, please know that when the hearts of Zimbabweans break, they may not make a noise – but we mourn daily at the tragic state of sport and art (like many other things) in the country.

We live in hope that it will one day turn around so that we can wave our flags, unite and celebrate again.

Tapiwa Rubaya

Tapiwa Rubaya is the current affairs, fashion and sports reporter at My Afrika Magazine.

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