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Uproar over Bona’s appointment

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The appointment of President Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona Chikore to the new 11-member Zimbabwe Censorship Board has torched off a storm, with several players in the arts industry questioning her suitability.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

Bona Chikore
Bona Chikore

The board, chaired by former Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, was appointed in terms of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, which, however, does not specify qualifications for the members.

It is Bona’s incorporation into the board announced on Tuesday by Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, which has raised eyebrows with some stakeholders indicating that it was merely on the basis that she was Mugabe’s daughter — or as a proxy to work as the eyes and ears of the first family.

Some artists, who spoke to NewsDay, said the censorship board had become an enforcement, rather than regulatory, body.

Renowned film producer based in the United Kingdom, Rufaro Kaseke, queried: “What qualities and credentials does Bona have? By putting Bona, there they are almost literally censoring the censorship board. Her father is one not synonymous for impartiality. They are sensing a surge in artists voices coming to the election and they are trying to silence them before they even speak.”

Thomas Mapfumo’s publicist, Blessing Vava, said Bona will only be carrying her family’s position in as far as decisions by the board are concerned, since she has little or nothing at all on her responsibilities.

“Mugabe is on his way out and desperately positioning his family in positions of influence. The Censorship Board will be a critical factor in terms of suppression of freedoms of expression and artistes’ creativity,” he said.

Seasoned filmmaker, Elton Mujanana, said there was no justification for the appointment.

“There was need to be circumspect in considering the appointment. The First Family is being appointed to key posts and this is not making them popular, least of all with the arts fraternity whose very existence is defiance and questioning,” he said.

Mujanana said the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act was enacted by Rhodesians, in a clear move to stifle dissenting “black voices, it is unfortunate to be still around after the country attained its independence from colonial rule”.

Arts promoter Plot Mhako said the appointment demonstrated government’s determination to censor creative content at a time when the global village was embracing free expression.

“It is an unfortunate decision and I doubt if it is based on merit or interest of the arts and entertainment sector to which the board serves to censor,” he said.

Artist and political activist, Silvanos Mudzvova, said Bona was roped into the board to control dissenting artists.

“Their position of bias towards Mugabe is very clear so they are assured that this board is there to control all political artistic products. Except for Catholic priest, Fidelis Mukonori the rest of the members lack artistic experience, which is very critical if their major job is evaluating artistic products,” he said.

Mudzvova said given the nature of his creative work, he did not foresee it being given the nod by the board.

Other board members are police spokesperson, Charity Charamba, Bulawayo administrator Khonzani Ncube, and Shingai Rukwata Ndoro.

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