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Rooftop to fight censorship law

Itai Mushekwe

ZIMBABWE’S leading theatre group, Rooftop Promotions, whose satirical play was banned by government, has vowed to fight the “unfair and outdated” Censorship and Entertainment Control Act which

has remained unchanged for 38 years since its promulgation in 1967.

Following the ban of its play, Super Patriots and Morons, the company has resorted to setting the ground for a protracted battle in redressing the piece of legislation which it contends is “out of touch with modern Zimbabwe”.

Rooftop has started broad consultations with various stakeholders in the arts sector and will engage human rights groups in a bid to ratchet up pressure on government to amend the Act.

Rooftop Promotions executive producer, Davies Guzha said: “This legislation is very ancient and has no relevance in today’s environment. When a society evolves you can’t expect one to remain staying in 1967, which is precisely what this Act has done. The world has changed and people can now access any material including the censored stuff at the touch of a button via the information super highway.”

Guzha added that it is incumbent upon the censorship board to meet with artists and various stakeholders so as to explain the law to them.

Super Patriots and Morons was embargoed to local theatre fanatics for the past one and a half years soon after premiering at the Harare International Festival of the Arts.

The play centres on an iron-fisted leader of an imaginary African state who is intolerant of opposition. The dictator sees all opponents as enemies and fronts for neo-imperialists who have to be purged.

Of major concern to Rooftop is the unprecedented power enjoyed by the Censorship Board together with the Information minister who can decide on what is good or bad for the industry without being questioned or making a holistic consultation, as decision-making is centralised.

Musicians such as Chimurenga guru Thomas Mapfumo have had their music taken off the airwaves due to lyrics largely viewed to be critical of the state.

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