THE country's artists-turned-parliamentarians have come under heavy criticism from the arts industry following the pledges they made as soon as they were elected into power in 2009.
Soon after their election during the 2009 general elections, Members of Parliament such as Felix Njawala of Blantyre Kabula, Chikhwawa South's Joseph Tembo and Billy Kaunda of Mzimba West pledged to tackle artists problem.
Among other things which are of great significance to Malawian artists, the MPs promised to help in passing the Cultural Policy Bill and modifying the Copyright Act. But, three years down the line, nothing tangible from the law makers has materialised.
The election into Parliament of MPs who have inclinations towards the arts brought optimism to an industry that is dogged by a lack of government support and weak copyright laws which aid acts like piracy.
Former president of the Musicians Association of Malawi (Mam) Costen Mapemba had been on the forefront fighting for the enactment of the cultural policy but to no avail.
Mapemba was quoted as saying in the media: "Culture contributes both to strengthening the individual and developing society as a whole. Therefore, art must be allowed to develop on its own terms through establishment of cultural policy."
The current Mam president Reverend Chiwmemwe Mhango also shares the same sentiments.
"Societies need a strong cultural life. Through its potential to move and inspire, culture contributes both to strengthening the individual and developing society as a whole. Remember, Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for a living democracy and freedom of opinion. Therefore, it is an essential and obvious task of cultural policy to protect this freedom," said Mhango.
But Kaunda said he was waiting for relevant authorities to present papers to the National Assembly, hence the delay in the fulfilment of his desire to uplift Malawian arts.
"I know what it takes to be a musician in Malawi and the challenges that artists face. Hence, as an MP, I am 100 percent willing to support the bills. But we are just waiting for bodies like Cosoma to present papers to us so that we should start the battle like the amendment of the Copyright Act.
" A s a n i n d i v i d u a l parliamentarian, it is difficult to bring the issue to parliament as a private bill because it is not a one man process," said Kaunda.
He said copyright laws in the country deserve modification because they facilitate the robbing of artists of their benefits through weak penalties.
"It does not make sense for culprits of piracy to go away with such weak penalties because this cannot improve arts in Malawi," said Kaunda.
On his part, Njawala said the fight for the well-being of Malawian artists and arts industry as a whole has not been impressive due to the priorities of his constituents.
"Sometimes your constituents tend to misunderstand you by questioning some of the things you present in the National Assembly. So, this has, on the other hand, affected my role in the fight for the well-being of Malawian arts. But still, there are signs that things will change for the better," said Njawala.
He cited the scrapping of duty on recording equipment as one of the changes that will help to improve arts in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has assured artists that the advancement of the cultural policy is in the process.
Asked why it was taking so long to be put into use since arts bodies have been asking for it long time ago, Director of Culture in the ministry Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu said: "We already drafted the policy but it also needs to be reviewed due to several changes that have taken place over the years."