BULAWAYO mayor Solomon Mguni has said the police’s conduct in storming the stage disrupting the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA) ceremony over the weekend at the Bulawayo Large City Hall was disappointing and clear heavy handedness.
BY SILAS NKALA
This year’s edition of the RoilBAAs was almost scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but through the event organisers’ resilience and thinking outside the box, the awards had to go ahead virtually.
Most participants took part virtually while only the few spectators were allowed to physically watch the awards ceremony at the venue.
However, the good mood of both the spectators and artistes was spoiled by the invasion of the hall by police officers who disrupted the ceremony just towards the end of the event with only two winners left to receive their awards.
Mguni said the police action affected the marketing of the city internationally.
“We are not happy with what the police did on the night of Saturday November 28 in the full glare of the international audience at the RoilBAA. We invest lots of time and resources to market Bulawayo as a cultural hub,” he said.
“I personally have been to China, America, Hongkong, Kenya, Germany and Abu Dhabi to market the arts and cultural domination of this city. I had lots of colleagues viewing the event on FacebookLive. They were equally disappointed about the law enforcement agent’s conduct. No prior warning. That heavy handedness was not called for.”
Mguni said as a local authority they would soon issue a detailed statement as guided by council at its ordinary meeting on December 2.
Deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube said as much as they were aware of the curfew and COVID-19 protocols, the police acted like activists.
He said the police should have asked organisers to conclude the event rather than storm the stage.
“It then creates a situation where people raise questions because we have funerals of prominent people and political gatherings being allowed to go ahead without disturbance,” he said.
“Their action was not diplomatic; it had a potential of causing noise. We thank the artistes and the general public for co-operating.”
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Michael Ndiweni said the raid was tribal.
“It is very suspicious and seems to be laced with tribal bigotry like everyone says for them to let Ginimbi’s funeral party go on until morning, not care about curfew rules, but do the opposite in Bulawayo,” he said.
Contacted for comment Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube was said to be in a meeting.
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