Zimbabwe: Police cancel music show

6 September 2007
For the second time this year, the police has stopped a Radio Dialogue community function in Bulawayo.

By Zenzele Ndebele, Freemuse’s stringer reporting from Bulawayo

The event was dubbed a ‘family fun day’ and was hosted at the White City Stadium in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. Radio Dialogue had organised a musical show which was set out to celebrate Bulawayo artists such as the world-travelled Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts, Bambelela, Skhu, Kaisa, Thandanani, and many more.

As the show was rolling, police arrived at the venue. They asked the Radio Dialogue administrator Kudzai Kwangwari to accompany them to a police station in the city centre.


A policeman tells the audience that the show has been cancelled

“I was taken to the police station for interrogation. Upon arrival I was asked to produce a clearance certificate. I was detained for up to two hours,” Kwangwari said.

The police then told him that the show had been cancelled because it was not properly cleared.

“Telling about a thousand people who thronged the stadium that the show had to be called off right in the middle of proceedings was so disheartening. We had to continue for the sake of the public as well as the safety of the performing artists,” said Kwangwari.

The police delivered the sad news to the crowd themselves, informing the gathering that they had to stop the show because the “authorities had not cleared the show”.

This was despite the fact three days earlier the police had given Radio Dialogue a verbal clearance to go ahead with the show.

‘Sign of censorship’
One artist, witness Ndlovu, who was at the venue and is not new to such artistic intimidation said:
“It is unfortunate that our promising day had to end like this. This is a very unfair situation to the development of arts as a whole. It actually instills fear on artists because this on its own is a sign of censorship. It appears to be their way to detect to us who we should align ourselves with.”

A statement released by Radio Dialogue lateron said that the police told them that “there is now a new criterion for applications for events, which is that applications are not made at district level but that they are sent directly to the provincial head quarters. Previously Radio Dialogue would get verbal clearances at police districts through local police stations,” read the statement.

One police officer declared to a Radio Dialogue official at the venue that, “the show has been cancelled by the authorities,”, apparently referring to the ruling party – the government of ZANU PF.

The incident comes a few months after the launch of the Umthwakazi Arts Festival similarly was thwarted.

Photos: by the author


Kudzai Kwangwari
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