THE ruling Zanu PF has intensified its capture of the creative arts industry, which plays a pivotal role of social commentary, by placing many artistes under the party wings.
This comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa's sons Sean and Emmerson Jnr hosted a lavish luncheon for a number of artistes that included Enzo Ishall, Holy Ten, Michael Maggz, Doc Vikela, Bhutisi, Poptain, Levelz, Fantan and many more.
However it was Ricky Fire’s attendance at the luncheon that shocked many considering that the dancehall chanter was recently singing against the Mnangagwa regime.
Ricky Fire used to tour Zimbabwe and performed at almost all Citizens for Coalition for Change rallies head of the March by-elections in 2022.
As if it was not enough, Ricky Fire went on to produce a song dubbed Kudya Yellow, which features the party’s leader Nelson Chamisa on the chorus.
Faceless characters threatened him with death if he continued supporting Chamisa.
The dancehall artiste took to his Facebook page to share a screenshot of messages threatening him after his association with Chamisa’s party from one user with the username Nyatsimba Mutota.
The message reads: “Cde, I’m giving you 24 hours to issue a press statement clarifying whether you are an artiste or a politician. And I want you to consider yourself warned!! Don’t try to deceive people hiding behind music whilst you are a sanctions beggar, the countdown has begun!!”
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Speaking to the Standard Style following the threats, the artiste’s manager Jayden Mutopa said they won’t be threatened into silence.
“Apart from being a musician Ricky Fire is a citizen of this country who has a constitutional right to associate himself with a party of his choice. Yes he performed there because it was part of his mandate as an artiste and entertainer to do so, it’s his job to perform, even if Zanu PF books him to perform we will go, it’s our job and we were only doing our job," he said.
"About threats we are not worried as they came from ghost accounts and as citizens of Zimbabwe the law should protect us,” he said.
Holy Ten recently joined the bandwagon and publicly put his weight behind Mnangagwa in two separate videos that have since gone viral.
Today Holy Ten will be sharing the stage with Sandra Ndebele who is running for a council seat in Bulawayo under the ruling party ticket.
In pictures that have gone viral, the artistes are seen feasting with Mnangagwa's sons.
The Mnangagwas are linked to Scarfemore Records, a record label that has been financing many urban artistes. Sources privy to the developments said the Mnangagwas, through Scarfemore Records, were the ones controlling day-to-day operations at Chillspot Records hence artistes from there are booked on events linked to Zanu PF.
Scarfemore Records are reported to be funding Holy Ten’s lavish lifestyle, his music and his record label Samanyanga Sounds.
Fantan and Levels were in 2021 sentenced to six months in prison alongside Tinashe Chanachimwe popularly known as Boss Dhama for organising an unsanctioned super Covid-19 spreader musical concert on New Year’s Eve, in breach of government regulations.
They were later freed on $10,000 bail a High Court judge. It is reported that Scarfemore Records was instrumental in the release of the trio.
Music critics have argued that the capture of the arts industry by politicians has led to the dwindling of Zim dancehall, a genre which hogged the limelight with social commentary lyrics that spoke about the impoverishment of the Zimbabwean ghettos and also the crushing of the economy. However lyrics anchor on sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Last week, in a desperate bid to cleanse its image in the international arena, the Zimbabwean government sucked in South African celebrities under the guise of "appreciating the true Zimbabwean image".
Pearl Thusi, Sello Maake ka Ncube and Sonia Mbele arrived in the country last week at the invitation of the Ministry of Information in very murky circumstances.
The South African trio were part of Mnangagwa plan to shrug off a bad reputation which is replete with human rights abuses, corruption and cronyism which have dogged his administration.
The South African celebrities were draped in Mnangagwa's trademark scarf, endorsing the Zanu PF leader.
The government-sponsored advertising campaign called “The True Zimbabwe Tour,” which also features journalists from a few Sadc countries, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Tanzania.
Thusi, who once stood firm with Zimbabweans during the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter in 2020, went on to claim that she didn’t know that her visit to Zimbabwe was going to be politicized following social media backlash.
In a social media video, Thusi said she did not know that the visit was a political gimmick.
Other entertainment stars who have been brought to Zimbabwe and met Mnangagwa are D’Banj, Floyd Mayweather, Davido, Koffie Olomide, DJ Tira among others.
The Nigerian music star D’Banj’s visit which was facilitated by Mnangagwa’s ally, the controversial church leader ‘Prophet’ Passion Java came at a time he was still being investigated over fraudulent activities back in Nigeria.
However, International star Burna Boy, who once endorsed the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag in 2020, refused to endorse Mnangagwa by wearing a Zanu PF scarf in exchange of money when he came to Zimbabwe.
The Nigerian singer was in Harare last year for a performance at Belgravia Sports Club.