WASHINGTON D.C. —
By Thato Mochone
Foreign music still dominates airplay in Zimbabwe despite policies in the past decade forcing radio stations to accord at least 60 percent of airplay to local music.
It seems with the passage of time that stations have gone back to playing more foreign music unlike yesteryear when then Information Minister Jonathan Moyo introduced sweeping measures promoting local content.
This was to ensure that Zimbabweans listened to local artistes instead of foreign productions. The policy was also meant to ensure that the rights of musicians were protected against exploitation.
At the same time, many Zimbabwean musicians are struggling to penetrate international platforms, as compared to Nigerian and Ugandan musicians who currently own the international stage.
Zimbabwean music producer, Zenzile Radebe, says Zimbabwean musicians are sidelined by radio DJs whose playlist are dominantly foreign despite the existence of a policy that advocates for 60 percent local content air play.
Radebe attributes lack of exposure to the quality of music being produced in the country, highlighting that Ugandans and Nigerians were putting a lot of work to produce high quality music with collaborations with foreign acts also coming in handy.
Most Zimbabwean musicians are yet to travel the route traveled by most Nigerian and Ugandan artists in that regard.
Nigerians, Radebe, also put much emphasis on making their music available on social media and other platforms where it could easily be accessed.
“If you watch Channel O, MTV, music played on big brother - that is Nigerian music,” he said. “The question of availability is an important one, making your music available is key to marketing yourself as a musician.”
“It is high time that Zimbabwean musicians changed the game. They should come on aggressive if they want to penetrate the international market by producing good quality music and making sure that music is available for consumption,” Radebe asserted.
Meanwhile, Mazowe South Member of Parliament, Fortune Chasi, who fell victim to factional fighting in Zanu PF that saw the ouster of former vice president Joyce Mujuru and a number of other senior party officials, says he is going into music full time.
Chasi,a former Justice Minister and current parliamentary legal committee chairperson, has so far released two Zimdancehall songs with Killer T and Gusypy Warrior.
Chasi told VOA he’s loving his new career.
“Because of too many assignments I have not been able to concentrate on recording,” said Chasi. “Now that I have more time on my hands, I surely will be doing more in the studio.”