Writers under the auspices of Essentials Books Writers Association (EBWA) have pleaded with the Government to lift import duty on material used for publishing books to give them relief on costs.
Speaking during a Great Get-Together Book Launch held recently in Harare, EBWA chairman Aleck Kaposa made an appeal to the authorities to remove duty on all publishing material to enable growth of the publishing industry.
The ceremony, which was attended by various authors, saw more than 20 books of diverse genres being jointly launched.
Kaposa said the duty waiver would encourage authors to perform more in the production of literary works.
“Art works are very important in every society and literary works are critical in entertaining as well as educating in various ways,” he said. “In light of this, we are appealing to the Government to remove duty on all publishing material in order to encourage innovation among artists.
“Artists are indispensable in every fabric of the society, we are also critical in stimulating economic growth through disseminating information through our writings. We are an important core in driving the aspirations of the nation.”
Kaposa said publishing material included printing machines, paper, cartridges, as well as the ink and printing papers, among other materials.
He talked about the resurgence of a myriad of challenges which artists were grappling, chief among being piracy.
Kaposa called on authors to join hands with the Government in enforcing intellectual property rights as a way of thwarting the vice.
“Piracy has become one of the major challenges artists are facing and is impeding the growth of the industry,” he said. “Let us join hands as artists in fighting piracy. It is not the duty of the Government alone to enforce intellectual property rights, we have a role in identifying such culprits.
“Let’s encourage and support our writers through buying their works. This will improve their standards of living as far as the plight of authors is concerned.”
The Government banned the use of photocopied books to get rid of piracy.
Addressing the same gathering, National Arts Council (NAC) director Nicholas Moyo said the plight of artists was worth to be considered as they boost the economy through their contribution.
Moyo said some of the challenges the industry was experiencing were being exacerbated by their colleagues who were fingered in piracy activities.
He encouraged artists to work hard in order to produce quality work.
“We can’t succeed as an industry that undercuts itself, some people who sit in our meetings are part of such cartels,” said Moyo. “Some of you are supporting people who photocopy books because you are making money by selling those copies and we have proof for that.
“We should move together and fight together so that the years of suffering will be shorter then we celebrate victory. We can’t have cartels in town that deprive the growth of the industry. It is good to do an introspection and work very hard in order to produce the best literary works. Make art a business after taking time to come up with good works.
“We are talking about creative writing as a business. I agree with you, the creative sector in Zimbabwe is facing challenges, also as the country is facing challenges on the economy which is also making people difficult to buy books in their budgets.”
Moyo the height of Covid-19 saw the emergence of many literary works, citing that people had enough time to write which saw the submission of many books for National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) this year.
He challenged writers to come up with literary works that compete at the international level.
“We now need most of our books to start getting into international awards,” said Moyo. “We should start changing the way we express ourselves, especially for editing, don’t edit for only Zimbabweans. Let’s start editing for international audiences and challenge our writers to write for international audiences.”
Moyo commended 10-year old writer Onald Gwiriri, who won this year’s NAMA award, insisting the young writer was poised to scale greater heights in the industry.