Banning of Zhakata infringes freedom of expression



SO as a compromise ZBC boss, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, has decided that radio stations play only two love songs from Leonard Zhakata’s latest album? The rest of the songs on the album remain banned.

This is suppression of freedom of expression at its worst.


In fact, the banning from the airwaves of Zhakata’s songs must not be a Munyaradzi Hwengwere initiative. It must be the brainchild of some senior official in the Ministry of Information, most likely the minister Jonathan Moyo, because even the Herald which had promised to review the album has not done so.


Moyo has influence over both the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the Herald.


In any case, having listened to the songs carefully, I can vouch that there is nothing that incriminates either Zanu PF or the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe in the songs that have been banned. Zhakata is a victim of the guilty conscience of whoever made the decision to stifle his artistic talent.


The Shona proverb kuvhunduka chati kwata (the guilty are always panicking) becomes very apt here. The person who made the decision to ban Zhakata’s songs from radio must have taken a small portion of the songs out of context and imagined that they did not paint Zanu PF and the illegitimate regime in good light.


The song Mirira, for example, is one that can be interpreted as teaching people to be patient and await their turn. Anyone who gives it a political connotation should, instead, understand it to mean that Zhakata is advising Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC to wait for their turn and not fast-track themselves to power through mass action.


The song Ngoma Yenharo (struggle), on the other hand, encourages unity of purpose among people and discourages them from fighting against each other.


The best Hwengwere could have done would have been to get Zhakata interviewed and give his own interpretation of the lyrics, if there were any suspicion that he denigrated Zanu PF and/or the illegitimate regime of Mugabe.


I have already brought to the attention of some world leaders the banning of songs from Zhakata’s album, and I would like to extend the list to human rights and related organisations in Zimbabwe and beyond.


We should not tolerate censorship of any kind manifesting itself in this country. Jonathan Moyo’s desire is to eliminate all music perceived to be exposing the regime’s weaknesses and replacing it with the Chave Chimurenga propaganda is insulting.


It is up to the listeners to interpret music the way they understand it according to their situation, and it is not a crime for suffering Zimbabweans to identify with Leonard Zhakata’s music.



Benjamin Chitate,

Harare.