State security agents steal limelight at Nama

STATE security agents stole the limelight at the just ended National Arts Merits Awards (Nama) held last week at Harare’s gigantic 7 Arts Theatre auditorium.

The arts and cultural awards ceremony was graced by Vice President, Joice Mujuru, who was the guest of honour

at this year’s fifth edition of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ)’s brainchild, which recognises artistic excellence in various genres covering theatre, dance, film and television, visual arts, music and drama.

Audiences attending the show were bewildered by the heavy presence of military and police officers that were manning entry points.

Officers from the Presidential Guard were planted all over the 800-seater theatre and could be seen milling around prepared to contain any untoward behaviour from art fans.

On the other hand police officers clad in riot gear waited patiently to pounce on possible unruly actions. Journalists working for the private media had to wait for more than an hour outside the venue before being given the green-light to cover the event unlike their colleagues from the state media who had received press invitations in advance.

“Which media organisation do you work for young man? How come I don’t know you?” asked one policeman manning the ground floor entry to one entertainment reporter from the private press.
 
Before Mujuru’s arrival the spotlight shifted from the day’s business to the security agents who wanted their presence to be felt thus providing the audience with live drama.

People were constantly reminded to observe silence and avoid wandering around the theatre “aimlessly as our honourable Vice President Mujuru is expected to arrive anytime soon”, said the show’s presenters whose directive was reinforced by state security officers.

While it is common practice to have security agents guarding and providing security surveillance whenever a member of the presidium graces a state occasion, guests attending Nama were left tongue-tied at how the well-organised event ended up becoming a “political carnival”.

An irate Nama nominee said: “Ko zvava zvehondo here? Masoja nemapurisa arikudei? (Are we at war? What are soldiers and policeman doing here?)”
 
Gumisani Nyoni who travelled from Bulawayo said: “The presence of the police and the Presidential Guard to the extent of instilling fear in the defenceless audience clearly indicates that this has been turned into a state function and thus the art aspect of it becomes questionable.

“Art is about relaxation of the mind; as such a president of the people should make the atmosphere accommodative rather than hostile to the fans. We came here to have a good time and not to be subjected to this military watch as if someone has threatened to repeat the car bombing that happened here at Avondale Shopping centre decades ago.” — Staff Writer.

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