HARARE – Zimbabwean musicians and celebrities from Zanu PF and MDC have taken the political bull by its horns by contesting in the upcoming legislative elections.
Gospel music star Elias Musakwa and sungura ace Joshua Sacco will represent Zanu PF while former ZBC radio DJs, Erick Knight, Ezra “Chisa” Sibanda and James Maridadi will contest on the MDC ticket.
Former ZBC, television news reader and presenter Supa Mandiwanzira will contest the Nyanga North seat under the Zanu PF ticket while former Radio 2 (Now Radio Zimbabwe) DJ Malaki Nkomo will represent Zanu PF in Insiza South.
Elvas Mari, the National Arts Council director said his organisation’s wish was for Parliament to elect individuals who are friendly to the arts.
“It is our hope that the artists and personalities vying for seats in parliament are successful as they will be able to push the arts agenda.
“Over the years, there hasn’t been any legislator who has been advancing the artist’s cause,” Mari told the Daily News on Sunday.
In recent years, he said, Webster Shamu, the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians patron and minister of Information has been a “lonely voice in terms of advancing artists’ concerns.
“I cannot think of anyone in government who has really spoken for artists except Shamu.
“We need other voices because the arts are a big contributor to socio-economic growth.”
Shamu, a Zanu PF top official is himself a recorded musician and former radio presenter.
He has gone further to record and sponsor young musicians who compose songs praising his party and its leader, Mugabe.
The musicians’ union patron is among top government officials usually gracing meetings and events that are arts related.
But there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as this year’s harmonised elections see musicians and entertainment personalities giving it a go.
In 2008, Musakwa narrowly lost the Bikita West parliamentary seat to Shoko Heya from the MDC and this year the gospel musician is giving another shot at the same seat.
He is contesting against Munyaradzi Kerere, also from Zanu PF and a former colleague at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe together with MDC’s Shoko.
Musakwa is a musician of note, having released dozens of top selling albums as an artist and producer.
He owns Gramma records, Zimbabwe Music Corporation and Ngaavongwe Records among other music stables.
Musakwa is also well-known for coordinating the Ngaavongwe Music Explosion which brought several gospel music acts together for a full day marathon of live music at Harare Gardens.
Sungura musician Sacco, the first white Zimbabwean to hold a position in the Zanu PF Youth league will contest the 2013 Chimanimani East parliamentary seat.
Sacco is a long standing member of the ruling party’s youth wing.
Sacco is in a class of his own as he is the only white musician in Zimbabwe who sings in the local Shona language while playing traditional music.
Born in 1979 in Zimbabwe, Sacco grew up in typical African environments, made friends with black youths and his band is made up of black youths.
That experience brought him closer to Zimbabwean traditions and culture.
He passed Shona language at Grade seven and obtained a C grade in the language at Ordinary Level.
Maridadi worked as a radio and television presenter/announcer for ZBC for close to 10 years before quitting in 2000.
He then joined Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai’s office initially as his spokesperson before moving to being director of protocol.
The former Radio 3 Dj popular for his Junior 3 programme, was a hit with children during his time at ZBC and will contest for the Mabvuku-Tafara parliamentary seat.
Sibanda is a former presenter, announcer of Radio 2.
A favourite of many listeners during his time at ZBC, he quit in 2000 in pursuit of broadcasting opportunities overseas where he and friends launched an online radio station.
This year he returned to Zimbabwe and will represent the MDC in this year’s harmonised general elections after winning the party’s primary polls in the Zanu PF-held Midlands constituency of Vungu.
Popular radio and television presenter Knight abandoned his work at ZBC after serving at the station for 12 years.
He joined the great trek to the UK and came back this year as an aspiring Member of Parliament and candidate for Mbare constituency under the MDC party led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
He has been endorsed by MDC to stand in Mbare.
Mandiwanzira is a former ZBC news anchor and owns a radio station, ZiFM.
In 2012 the journalist-cum-businessman was co-opted in Zanu PF’s PCC (provincial coordinating committe) as Manicaland provincial treasurer. Aspiring politician Energy Mutodi, a sungura musician lost his bid to contest in Zanu PF’s Goromonzi primary parliamentary elections.
Although he bowed out of the race, he did not go without contesting his disqualification.
There are other musicians who have lost before, among them Bryn Mteki who is also a stone sculptor.
In 2003, Mteki stood and lost in the Zanu PF primaries for the Highfield by-election to war veteran Joseph Chinotimba.
Mteki however, told local media then that “for the record, I didn’t lose the election to anyone, but I paved way for Cde Chinotimba due to the tight schedules I had regarding my work.
“I had several exhibitions lined up that I could not ignore.
“I seriously thought about it and it dawned on me that I needed to concentrate on my work. Plans to get into politics? Well, I can’t really say no or yes.
“The people would have to decide if they want me to represent them, as was the case in 2003.”