Zimbabwe’s current political and economic crisis has destroyed the once vibrant music industry. The fuel shortage, coupled with the recent destruction of the informal sector has left the musician poorer. “The industry is dying slowly,” says a Zimbabwean record company marketing director
By Maxwell Sibanda
ON THE OTHER hand, there is good news in that most ruling party propaganda songs composed during former Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo’s reign have been slowed on both state television and radio. International music, also totally banned during Professor Moyo’s tenure, is slowly coming back on the airwaves.
Affected by fuel crisis
The capital city of Harare, which houses almost all the popular musicians is now always overbooked with repeat-shows.
A complete halt
Zimbabwe’s fuel crisis set in after the International Monetary Fund withdrew balance-of-payments support in 1999 and the result has been an acute foreign currency shortage.
Destruction of flea markets
Slowdown of propaganda music
Leonard Zhakata, a victim of government music censorship says most of his songs are still not being played although he recently had a rare interview on state television. “The broadcaster invited me for an interview on the main news. Initially they had sent me some questions in advance, among which they wanted to know why I was a ‘rebel’ musician. I queried them on what they meant by calling me a ‘rebel’ musician. But when I was live on television that issue was not raised, instead they said they wanted to clear a rumour that I no longer had a band.”
Alternative tv-choices from satellite
The dismiassal of Professor Moyo has also seen international music trickling in. Mutamba says: “There has been some shift of policy at the state broadcaster as they are now slotting international songs here and there. I am sure in a few months they would have done away with the 100 percent local content rule introduced under Professor Moyo.
Absence of good quality programming
But censorship of critical songs remains in force. Mutamba says: “Those songs critical of government will not be played – why should they play songs singing against their policies and leadership.”