MUSIC Associations and Arts Promoters in Zimbabwe chairperson Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza has urged artistes to diversify and adapt to the “new norm” induced by the outbreak of COVID-19 as bars and nightclubs remain closed for public shows.

Chipaz said this in an interview with NewsDay Life & Style after government on Wednesday said it would not allow reopening of bars and nightclubs anytime soon as the country faces the threat of the deadly third wave of the coronavirus.

While other sectors have been opened, bars and nightclubs are still closed as physical gatherings for live concerts remain banned, throwing most artistes, who earn a living from live performances, into abject poverty.

Artistes have been turned into beggars, with some resorting to gold panning to eke a living.

“We just need to be innovative and diversify for the time being while our good government is looking at safe modalities to open up events. In one of his songs, the late sungura singer Tongai Moyo queried that if a soccer ball burst, would it be sensible to sell the stadium, and the fans said no, this is the same situation we are in, let’s diversify,” he said.

“Let’s not be seen as if we are trying to force matters, we just need to be innovative and diversify for the time being.”

Another arts promoter and Jive Zimbabwe director Benjamin Nyandoro said the country should adopt innovative measures to contain the pandemic.

“People need their lives back unfortunately, those making these restrictive decisions are never affected by their implications.

“There is a whole ecosystem that is everyday being affected, from property owners, businesses, suppliers, to employees.

“Government must reconsider its approach and skewed definition of what is called a business and non-essential luxuries,” he said.

In a post-Cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said bars and nightclubs would remain closed.

“Cabinet remains cognisant of the need to fully open all economic activities. However, in the face of the threat of a third wave, Cabinet has deferred consideration of the opening of bars and nightclubs until further notice,” she said.

Mutsvangwa said as of Tuesday the country’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 37 875, with 35 058 recoveries and 1 554 deaths.

Government’s decision to keep the showbiz closed as part of a raft of measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus has seen some “politically-connected” nightclub owners defying the COVID-19 measures.

“They host live gigs at their joints, risking patrons’ lives in these days of the deadly pandemic.

Of late, some artistes have joined forces under their associations in efforts to lobby for the reopening of the showbiz sector with a cocktail of proposals having been presented to the relevant authorities awaiting endorsement.

In a bid to stave off poverty, a number of local artistes, among them urban groover Trevor Dongo, comedienne Felistas “Mai Titi” Murata and Zimdancehall singers Freeman (born Sylvester Chizanga), Holy Ten (Mukudzei Chitsama) and Jah Signal (Nicodemus Mutize) have been flocking to South Africa for live performances.

-Newsday

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