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Masvingo Magistrate upholds freedom of artistic expression"¦. Quashing Police Attempts to stop national healing play "No Voice No Choice"

Masvingo police on Thursday the 7th of July 2012 failed to stop the performance of a play on national healing play entitled 'No Voice No Choice' scheduled to be staged during the ongoing Youth Cultural Arts Festival (YOCAF) in Masvingo which started on the 2nd of August and is ending on the 4th of August 2012 .

The play which was written, directed and produced by award-winning theatre practitioner Tafadzwa Muzondo is a production by two community theatre groups, Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts Ensemble, and is aimed at exhorting peace and reconciliation after years of conflict in Zimbabwe and is dedicated to the resilient and innocent Zimbabweans who long for peace and freedom of choice.

 

Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts Ensemble notified Masvingo Central Police in writing of their performances in Masvingo town on the 24th of July, and only got a response from the police on the 1st of August disapproving the performance. The response from Chief Superintendent J Nyapfuri - Officer Commanding Masvingo Central District cited that the 'public performance is not approved due to security reasons', A letter to the organisers, from Chief Superintendent J Nyapfuri - Officer Commanding Masvingo Central District signed the letter specifying the above stated reason.

 

The violation of artistic expression was averted by the intervention of human rights lawyer Collen Maboke a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who filed an ex-parte application against the refusal to grant applicant permission to stage the play citing Zimbabwe Republic Police, Minister of Home Affairs, Commissioner of Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Officer Commanding Masvingo Central as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondent respectively. A provisional order was also granted by Masvingo Civil Court Provincial Magistrate Jabulani Zinyati in which, "respondents were ordered to allow the applicant to perform their theatre play without any disturbances at the scheduled places and times (Mucheke Terminus at 1pm on 2 August, Charles Austin Theatre at 8pm on 2 August and Rujeko Hall at 1pm on 3 August) €, according to court papers.

In an interview with the Crisis Report Team, Tafadzwa Muzondo said,

"It was unfortunate that Masvingo Central tried to stop a show that was staged and enjoyed by audiences at Nyika and Jerera Growth Point in the same province. This attempt to temper with our freedom of artistic expression is worrying considering that we are bona fide Zimbabwean artists who are trying to make a living out of their talents as we advance noble objectives such as community peace building and reconciliation which is the core theme of the play."

 

Mr. Muzondo expressed his happiness with the courts decision to grant an order for the police to stop their attempts to ban the play, and stated that they would go ahead to thrill theatre fans in Masvingo with their powerful, National Arts Merits Award (NAMA) nominated production which has also been staged to critical acclaim in South Africa and Zambia and is set to be performed in Malawi later in the year.

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