Zimbabwe/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Convention on Safeguarding Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage. At international level Zimbabwe plays a significant role in the implementation of global strategies on Heritage. For instance in 1995 and 2000, two meetings were held in Zimbabwe to identify ways of implementing the Global Strategy for a balanced and representative World Heritage List which was adopted by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS in 1994 and to identify heritage places in a more inclusive way. Zimbabwe also hosted the annual ICOMOS meeting that was held in October 2003 and focused on intangible heritage. 

At local level Zimbabwe has got heritage legislation (the National Museums and Monuments Act- which is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs) dating from 1972. The old piece of legislation protects buildings, objects and culturally or scientifically significant natural places. Intangible heritage like sculpture, drama and traditional dance and instruments for safeguarding intangible heritage fall under the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture. 

The cultural policy of Zimbabwe emphasises the importance of celebrating and preserving cultural heritage. 

There are also associations such as the Oral Traditions Association of Zimbabwe (OTAZI), formed in 1988. It is closely linked with the Oral Traditions Association of Southern Africa (OTASA) and aims at promoting Zimbabwe’s oral history and at improving the methodology of working with oral data.

In 2002 the government formed Zimbabwe National Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee to work towards the safeguarding and conservation of traditional practices and knowledge that are faced with extinction. That Committee did not do much from 2002 to 2009 when it was reconstituted due to lack of resources and proper coordination. 

2006 saw the proclamation of Jerusarema dance a as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity however, not much has been made known about what is being done to safeguard the masterpiece. This could be the result of the critical shortage of financial resources needed in implementing the convention.

Chapter published: 28-09-2011