VETERAN theatre producer-cum-actor, Silvanos Mudzvova was yesterday arrested outside Parliament building, as he was staging a one-man play titled Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The award-winning Mudzvova claimed the play was inspired by revelations made recently by President Robert Mugabe, when he said the country had lost $15 billion raised from diamond revenue.
Mudzvova, who was dragged by two male police officers to a guard room at Parliament building, was later taken to Harare Central Police Station, where he was later released after almost five hours of detention without charge, but was ordered to report to Harare Central police station today.
Mudzvova is being represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ Kudzai Kadzere and Tonderai Bhatasara.
Police swooped on Mudzvova, who was using a megaphone, as he was about to start his solo play before a crowd could gather and most legislators had not arrived for the sitting of Parliament.
Several police details swarmed the guard room at different intervals and took turns to question Mudzvova on why he had decided to stage the play at Parliament and demanded to know whose agenda he was pushing him for such an agenda.
“So you think this is the right place to stage your play? Why did you not go to the National Heroes Acre where the President is, and air your grievances?” quizzed a police officer.
In response, Mudzvova said: “I want these Parliamentarians, who are closer to the President, to take the issue to him so that those, who benefited from the missing $15 billion can be brought to book,” he responded.
“I am doing this as a Zimbabwean citizen, who is just demanding his share of $1 000 from the missing $15 billion.”
The police also arrested two NewsDay staffers and a photographer from the Daily News, although they were later released without any charges being preferred against them.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general, Foster Dongozi described the detention of the journalists as an assailant on Press freedom.
“Once again, we have to deal with a bungling establishment that thinks there is everything wrong in journalists covering a theatre production. We strongly condemn the wayward and heavy handed response by authorities,” he said.
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was at Heroes Acre attending the burial of two national heroines and did not have details on the actor’s arrest.
Speaking to NewsDay soon after his release, Mudzvova said theatre is his passion and he was not looking back, but would go ahead with his scheduled performances.
“I have been arrested on several occasions, but to be honest, detention actually strengthens me in my mission to stand up for human rights and respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“Today I will be performing the play at the Chinese Embassy car park and on Saturday I will take the play to Mbada Diamond’s offices’ car park,” he said.
Mudzvova said he decided to stage the play at Parliament building, as a way of reminding the legislators to continue speaking about the missing $15 billion.
“Wednesday is the question and answer day, yet the Parliamentarians have stopped asking about the missing $15 billion, so I have seen it fit to politely remind them that $15 billion is a lot of money and it should be spoken about until those responsible for stealing it are brought to justice,” he said then.
This is not the first time Mudzvova has been arrested. He made headlines in 2007 after he was arrested for launching another of his plays, titled the Final Push, which was seen in some circles as a veiled instigation for people to oust the Zanu PF regime.
In 2010, he was at it again, as he planned a one-man demonstration in the central business district through which he intended to push for public officials to declare their assets before taking office.
However, the demonstration was not cleared by police.
Mudzvova bemoaned the use of “colonial pieces” of legislation such as the Entertainment Control and Censorship Act by the present government, saying such laws curtailed creativity.
“I use theatre as a way of expressing the will of the people without fear, despite some parts of legislation being used to stifle our artistic creativity. We are going to continue showing our creativity by making productions inspired by day-to-day incidents in a way that is both entertaining and educating,” he said.