So Many New Zimbabwean Radio Stations But Where Is The Diversity?

 

by Tafadzwa Murangwana

Radio is a powerful medium that can be able to change people’s perspectives and enable them to make informed decisions. Recent surveys have pointed to appalling voter apathy among youths in Zimbabwe. One is bound to feel that this can be changed if the radio stations here do not over emphasise the entertaining role to precede over other roles.

The coming in of new radio stations had reignited hopes that there will be a rapid change in terms of content but that has been dashed as most of them are replicas of ZBC’ Power FM which most of the urban youths do listen to. The rural youths have been left out as most of these new stations do broadcast less in vernacular.

Some of the radio personalities have made household names for spewing trivialities. I have listened to some 3-hou r shows where you can’t draw anything that can make the youths privy to the national discourse. There has been the proliferation of Zimdancehall shows on many of these stations with very critical issues affecting the youths glaringly missing.

While some stations like Star Fm and ZIFM have tried to introduce political programs they have been biased in their presentation and the language has been mainly English. Former radio presenter and Mabvuku-Tafara  MP James Maridadi said he wrote to Star Fm complaining how the station over-edited a pre-recorded program where he was a guest.

“I was naïve to accept to be a guest on a pre-recorded program and I have raised my disgruntlement with Star Fm regarding their adulterations of the program to suit their agenda,’ said an irate Maridadi.

The same stations were also caught in another controversy when it failed to live broadcast a Transform Zimbabwe party event despite the latter having paid fully for the services.  The radio crew decided to stop the broadcast abruptly after a call from the superiors advising it to stop forthwith. This raised the ire of many people who had attended the event.

What the new stations have brought is media pluralism rather than diversity and this has been a disservice to most youths who needs to be appraised on the critical process of democracy, governance, human rights and accountability which are all essential in shaping a better future. However,  what we have seen are youths who are up-to–date with latest Zimdancehall songs and jokes rather than key issues and with the elections beckoning next year it will be very sad to see such a powerful medium failing to reach its full potential.

ALTERNATIVE MEDIA INITIATIVES

This country has many alternative media initiatives that if given adequate support can be able to provide youths with an alternative voice.There are many community radio stations that are waiting to be licensed so that they can fully function. Sometime this year, I had a chat with Trevor  Mtisi who heads Kumakomo FM, a Mutare-based community radio stations which operates in urban Mutare and surrounding areas and he said while they have been given a nod by authorities to operate radio listeners’  clubs where they distribute compact discs to concertise them on service delivery, this year they have been put on  a  ‘leash’ to monitor them not to sway away from their focus.

‘We used to clear with a few authorities but now we are going through a red tape to be cleared,”  said Mtisi.

There is also ChannelZim, a platform where initiatives like  Radio Voice of the People, Corah FM, Radio Dialogue, Studio 7 and Radio Kwelaz broadcast using the free-to-air satellite channels and internet was gaining traction in terms of listenership but is facing sustainability challenges denting the hopes of many youths who were listening to dissenting voices that were being given space by these initiatives.

HOPE IN SOCIAL MEDIA BUT…

The advent of social media has opened up opportunities for youths to freely participate in critical national discourse. We have seen how #hashtags on Twitter have effected changes in some cases, for example, Moto Republic ‘a hub for youths’ was saved from demolition by the Harare City Council. The city fathers had to back off after a spirited social media campaign.

We have seen a spike in social media activists like Acie Lumumba, Pastor Evan Mawarire and Linda Masarira have become popular for addressing critical issues through social media.

But hold on folks, while social media is an enabling tool in making the youths participate in critical issues it has it’ s own inadequacies as internet accessibility is still low among many of the youths especially given the fact that most of them are reeling under unemployment. For the rural youths, it is even worse as some of the areas do not have the infrastructure. Critics have also pointed that social media activism is not effective in addressing key issues affecting the youths as most are calling for radicalism.

With the current local radio stations, it will be a tall order to have youths who are keen in participating in the national discourse as they will continue to work tirelessly to preserve the current status quo of deficient youths.

#Tajamuka Explains It’s Planned National Week Of Peaceful Action

 

by Watmore Makokoba

Spokesperson of #Tajamuka  Promise Mkwananzi has warned Zimbabwe law enforcement agents that interfering with lawful and peaceful demonstration scheduled to start tomorrow is what will disturb the intended peacefulness of the one demonstrations.

Mkwananzi said the national week of peaceful action & non-violent resistance is within the confinements of the constitution, therefore the outcome of the demo, whether it will be violent or peaceful will be determined by the regime reaction to it.

“If they don’t provoke us, it will end peacefully, even the police officers who are here they must take this message to their bosses that we don’t expect the demo to be violent, we have already notified the police about it”.

The activists added that one of the main agendas of the protests is to push for electoral reforms to ensure free and fair 2018 General Elections.

“We want to make sure that the government is accountable for the country to have a free & fair election, therefore, are going to push for the much needed electoral reforms”, he said.

The #tajamuka activists denied having any intentions to use violence to air their views and urged its affiliated members to desist from such amid alleged threats from Zanu Pf youths who are said to have already threatened to counter the demo.

“Any person who’s going to be violent is not part of us,

“Zanu-PF youth have already said they are going to counter the protest but we’re calling for peaceful protests”,  they said.

The countrywide National Week of Peace and Action protests breaks a long silent period since last year’s  infamous demonstrations from an array of activists including the National Electoral Reform Agenda members, #Thisflag and informal sector representative organisations that saw bloody clashes between protestors and law enforcements agents.

Soul Jah Love Is Not A Thing… He Is Things!

 

By Simba The Comic King

Soul Jah Love has done did it again. First, he started off “on the Dwayne Johnsons” (Pamamonya Ipapo), now he is things ( Ndiri Zvinhu). This past Saturday SJL was humiliated when a youthiez leader, Innocent Hamandishe told an excited crowd to calm the f**k down after they had spotted the “on the Dwayne Johnsons” hitmaker. The not so youthful youth leader openly declared in front of the freakin’ masses that “Soul Jah Love haasi chinhu,” for our foreign readers loosely translated that means, “Soul Jah Love is not a thing.” This was the ruling party’s response after they feared he might outshine the headline act, MC Bob himself.

Now when faced with such a scenario the most logical reaction for the average human being would be to go home, masturbate and sleep it off but not for SJL. In what must have been a song he wrote as soon as he left the stadium, he recorded a track entitled “Ndiri Zvinhu” (I Am Things). A jam that is not only a pleasant clap back to the insult but you can actually dance to the s**t (listen to the song below).

If you though diss tracks were only a hip hop thing, you thought horribly wrong nigga. Jay-Z ain’t gat nothing on Chibaba Chacho, once again for our foreign readers we shall translate, “The small father.”

The uproar caused by the video that’s been trending on social media has raised a very critical question, “Can the artist be a bigger thing than the Head Of State” and an even more important question, “Are Things not chips and not human beings?” We live in a country where an artist is viewed as an individual with nothing to do except smoke a lot of weed, drink lots of alcohol and allows this magic concoction to create all that s**t you dance to. That actually what an artist is but that’s not the point, the point here is didn’t anyone teach ZANU PF youth leaders some manners? I mean the dude took time out of his weed smoking schedule only to be told that he is not a thing? An artist deserves a little bit of respect for giving making the music you all love and smoke weed to. Let’s hope ZANU PF youthiez can figure out what rhymes with “zvinhu.” Ol’ Jonny boy can’t help on this one cause his genre is urban grooves.  Let’s hope this thing doesn’t mean we’ll be holding candles at Rotten Row a few days from now #PamaCourtIpapo gaddhemeti.

Grievance Sipikita’s One Man Demo & Open Letter To President Mugabe

 

by Kalabash Reporter

A Harare vendor, Grievance Sipikita Tuesday held a one man demonstration at the Africa Unity Square and wrote a scathing letter urging President Robert Mugabe to take a firmer stance against rampant corruption perpetrated by his Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials, among other influential figures in the country.

In the strongly worded letter, Mr Sipikita pours out his heart without restraint to the country’s first citizen.

Download The Full Version Sipikita’s Letter

“I write this letter to you Mr President to express my democratic rights as enshrined in the constitution…which you signed into effect (sic) to air my displeasure and my disgust over certain issues that you as the head of state have failed to deal with leaving Zimbabweans questioning your capability to take  the nation forward”, wrote Sipikita.

“I am not fighting you, but a system in which you operate, a system that has left 90% of country’s population unemployed, half of the population scavenging abroad and a country without a national currency, 37 years after independence.

“Mr President, corruption is now normal in this country, even your RBZ Governor would agree with me that it is now a cancer which needs a strong leader to weed out, corruption is rampant in parastatals and government ministers office….Corruption is the cancerous disease sir that led to the closure of ZISCO Steel, Kamativ Tin mine and led to the suffering of Willovale Motor industry, GMB and the closure of diamond mining firms, which in turn exacerbated the current cash crisis”, says Sipikita in his hard hitting letter.

“Instead of taking a hard stance on perpetrators of corruption, you publicly defend them. With all due respect Mr President, this is a complete disregard of the rule of law. In addition sir, those implicated in corrupt activities are walking free and those with the constitutional authority to investigate corrupt officials are threatened and perceived to be enemies of the state, most of the vibrant companies that were regarded as the backbone of Zimbabwe were destroyed because of pillage, nepotism and corruption under your nose ”, he continues.

He also urged the President, to curb what he called excessive expenditure by downsizing his cabinet and cutting on foreign trips, arguing that their appointment is based on “patronage, cronyism and nepotism” rather than merit.

“Mr President, we have 31 Ministers and their deputies, 31 Permanent secretaries and 10 Provincial Ministers. How much are they consuming sir? Your government is consuming without producing….it does not need a rocket scientist to tell you that you appointed thugs and looters to run the affairs of Zimbabwe”, he continues.

“Zimbabweans are increasingly exasperated by your passivity in dealing with this repugnant act of treachery by your subordinates. You can ignore it at your own peril”, he concludes in his letter.

Zimbabwean artists participation in politics: Ngatibudiranei pachena!

 

by Silvanos Mudzvova

The ‘Arts’ sector has for years complained that the government and politicians are not respecting them by not listening to their demands. Since 1980 the Zanu PF government has never appointed a cabinet minister with an arts background to head the Arts ministry. As a result, the ‘Arts’ sector has continually been under-funded compared to the ‘Sports’ sector year on year. The parliamentary portfolio committee responsible for Arts also consists of people who have no Art background as such they don’t have any idea of what issues are affecting the Arts sector. They have never been any public hearing called for by the parliamentary committee since 1980, yet artists are always complaining about the challenges they face every day. The current cabinet appointed by the Mugabe (the 93-year-old President) has placed the arts sector under an obscure ministry that most artists are not aware of. Most artists are not aware of their current minister or how much budget was allocated to the ministry.

Artists’ always complain about a lack of funding from the government, however, the complaints are raised behind-closed-door meetings amongst the artists themselves, as they can’t openly complain directly to the government or any of its officials. I have always raised the question why don’t we write opinion articles, give press statements, create artistic products protesting about this situation. The answer is, “I don’t want to get involved in politics.”

My friends and colleagues, politics is determining my and your future. Politics is killing your livelihood, politics is stifling the creation of more art products. As artists, we should not wait for politicians to change in favor of the arts sector but we should make them change to recognize what we require of them.

This brings me to a very controversial issue that has affected many artists over the last decade. The issue of, ‘Artists openly supporting a political party of their choice,  KUBUDIRANA PACHENA.’

American hip hop artists’ openly support their preferred presidential candidates in US Presidential Elections. This has now become a norm in American Politics, evidenced by Hip Hop Artist Young Jeezy’s song “My President.” American Music Rapper Lil B made headlines when he decided to endorse Bernie Sanders, the list is endless and audiences (voters) respect this behavior as the artists will be raising awareness and the politician is over the moon as they will are endorsed by celebrities. Let’s come closer to home (Our Zimbabwe) before I am dismissed as an agent of the west or admiring western culture which is not even close to us and talk of South African artists, Solly Moholo.

Solly Moholo played a critical role in supporting Thabo Mbeki (former South African President), Urban pop singer Chomee, known for her gyrating dance moves endorsed President Jacob Zuma at an ANC event.

On 17 July 2016 the City Press reported, “…at the launch of the ANC’s Countdown to Victory campaign in anticipation of the upcoming municipal polls – hosted on Wednesday night at The Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg – celebrities including Khanyi Mbau, Kelly Khumalo, Nhlanhla Nciza, Criselda Dudumashe, Jimmy Tau, Mike Mangena and others came in their numbers to endorse the ruling party.”

This clearly indicates the level of maturity and involvement of artists in determining their own future yet in Zimbabwe it’s all about, “I don’t get involved in politics,” yet this ‘politics’ is determining your artistic journey. Come on Comrades!! Ngatibudiranei pachena!! (let’s come in the open)

In Zimbabwe since the liberation struggle, Cde Chinx was known for supporting the ruling party Zanu PF. We have all danced to his music besides its ideological bankruptcy and people are accustomed to his political beliefs. Soul Jah Luv, born Soul Musaka on the 22nd November 1989 has done the same. He openly sang about his admiration towards Mbare MP Hon. Savanhu in a song titled “Savanhu Wembare.” He chants Zanu Pf slogans in the song. He also has a composition for Robert Mugabe titled, “Gushungo/Zimbabwe,” where he joins other praise singers of the dictator Mugabe. Today if Soul Jah Luv’s song, “Pamamonya Ipapo,” is played we all dance to it. The people of Zimbabwe have accepted, Soul Jah Luv is Zanu Pf and they respect him for that. The list of Zanu Pf musicians also includes Tambaoga, the late Simon Chimbetu, the late Elliot Manyika, Taurai Mteki the list is endless.

There are others, though few, musicians that have aligned themselves through their music to the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai. This list includes Dread Reckless and Sister Fearless. These artists have released albums dedicated to the opposition in their struggle against the oppressive regime.

In Zimbabwe, there are those artists that protest and highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean people through songs. These artists in their songs concentrate on Human Rights and Governance issues without being aligned to a political party.  Hosea Chipanga is a guru in this area, as evidenced by a lyric from one of his songs, “……vatadza kupedza hurumbo vakati ngatipedze varombo….” Most of Chipanga’s albums are pregnant with emotion and when you listen deeply to his music thinking about Zimbabwe, tears will flow. Another musician is Leonard Karikonga Zhakata others would prefer to call him, ‘Master of song’. This is one musician with deep political satire which is not for the faint-hearted. Thomas Mapfumo needs no introduction since he has been doing protest music since 1979.

In Zimbabwe, most of the artist don’t like coming in the open to declare which side they are but at times it’s so obvious. Jah Prayzah uses military attire as his official stage uniform. It should be noted the use of military uniform is not allowed for civilians even on stage but Makombe was granted permission to use it. It’s common knowledge the Zimbabwean regime mainly the military and police do strict vetting before they allow you to use their regalia and this vetting includes a question, ‘Which political party do you support?’

It’s either you are Zanu Pf or the Opposition to them (neutral doesn’t exist) and for you to be granted a job, uniform to use in dramas, the basic is that you have to be with Zanu Pf. I, Silvanos Mudzvova, have undergone the vetting that I am stating in this article on several occasions. I know the process and I remember the questions along with the answers I gave. Hence, I urge Jah Prayzah to come out in the open and let people know the truth.

Simon Chimbetu was the most popular at the turn of the millennium, we all danced to his music fully aware of the fact he was Zany Pf. I urge Jah Prayzah to further his cause openly without any fear as his talent will stand for him.  Sulumani Chimbetu is also the other musician who doesn’t want a tag on him but his record speaks for itself. I will not bring his father into this but his employment at Airforce where some vetting is done, it’s clear you can’t get employed by the military, police, air force and the central intelligence organization without declaring your allegiance to Zanu Pf.

If popular artists openly declare about what they are it will make life easier for young and upcoming artists to be involved in the politics of the country. We need to reignite peoples participation in national affairs and artists mainly musicians as role models can assist in this regard. People of Zimbabwe fear so much to voice their concerns and the only way to break this is by using their role models who should be there to give courage. For any country to achieve development its citizens need to be involved in the politics of their country.

Music and Politics have long been connected and it can be traced back to Napoleon in 1789 (France). Most recently music was used to achieve development when a series of concerts was used to put pressure on G8 Leaders to change their policy on third world debt this happened in July 2005 at an event dubbed Live8.

Let artist’s rise up and open up about our allegiance to certain politicians so that we can contribute towards what we want. Let us be proud of what we want and determine our country’s destiny. Music has the power to change or influence politics of a country like what happened in America when we reflect on Obama’s Presidential Campaigns that he ran in particular when he ran against the Republican Candidate John McCain. Obama received the support of artists across the spectrum (Bob Dylan, Arcade Fire, Springsteen, Green Day and Usher, to name just a few), John McCain struggled to find support from musicians as a result, McCain lost the election.

I urge Zimbabwean Musicians to stand up and be counted and define how their country moves forward.

Silvanos Mudzvova is an Arts Activists currently he is an Artist Protection Fund Fellow at the University Of Manchester. email: vhitori@gmail.com