IT is election year again in Zimbabwe, and if you have lived in this country as long as some of us, you will be forgiven for dreading the scary times ahead.
As predicted, there has been significant deterioration of political tolerance ahead of this year’s general election set for August.
Among the acts of brutality against opposition political supporters was a video that went viral months ago, revealing Zanu PF youths viciously beating up CCC supporters in Murewa.
Some victims of the public flogging were elderly people, old enough to be parents of their tormentors.
From physical harm against dissenting voices, it seems the ruling regime in the country is determined to victimise anybody perceived to have an influential voice against the system.
Music icon Winky D has been added to that list following the release of his hit album, perceived as containing lyrics critical of the government.
Of course, the music resonates with the downtrodden masses, and Zimbabweans across all walks of life have taken an immediate liking to Winky’s album, which has riled the political guys at the top.
However, with several digital platforms at our exposal, it has become difficult, if not impossible, for one to ban artistic expression, especially music.
So, when Winky D launched his latest album, Eureka Eureka, he drew a full house at Harare International Conference Centre.
But Zanu PF’s social media trolls and supporters would not have none of it and they went all out to try and silence Winky D’s music from state-run radio stations.
The latest attack on Winky D, whose real name is Wallace Chirimuko, was at the weekend at Dam View in Chitungwiza where, despite being the headline act, he was ordered off stage by the police.
The incident happened moments after the 40-year-old singer had performed the song Ibotso off his studio album Eureka Eureka.
Eureka Eureka carries songs such as Ibotso, Vafarasi, Chauruka and Dzimba Dzamabwe — tackling social injustice, Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown and corruption within government. Indeed, the album has ruffled the feathers of many in the political space.
Ibotso speaks of how the rich and powerful are amassing even more wealth at the expensive of the ordinary citizenry while Chauruka warns those in higher offices not to abuse the authority they have as one day this could backfire.
There was a show in Chitungwiza last weekend where police attempted to stop Winky D’s show, causing crowd trouble, and a premature end to the gig.
And it did not end there as Baba Harare’s show was also cancelled.
According to Baba Harare, the show was cancelled because police in Chitungwiza had not cleared the concert.
For those who can remember, Baba Harare has been active on Twitter, encouraging youths to register to vote. But Zanu PF trolls took have taken it to mean that he is encouraging youths to vote for CCC.
The suppression of artistic expression is the last thing any government would want to do. It shows desperation on the part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
This is because freedom of expression is a human right enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe.
There was a furore on social media after that Chitungwiza incident, with many openly criticising the government for the deteriorating levels of tolerance.
German-based rapper Awa Khiwe tweeted: “Even if they cut off his mic, people can still sing his songs word for word. He is the voice of the people and he will never be silenced.
History will remember him as the artist who chose to stand with the struggling people of Zimbabwe during tough times, risking his life and refusing to accept blood money.”
The tweet received 1 228 retweets and over 7 300 likes.
Veteran music critic Professor Fred Zindi commented: “What happened in Chitungwiza last week is unfortunate. Shows that the democratic space in Zimbabwe is closing. If anyone, especially a popular artiste like Winky D sings about what is deemed to be anti-government sentiments, he becomes an enemy. The Human Rights Act, Article 10 says everyone has a right to freedom of expression without interference.”
Oscar Mugomeri, the deputy director of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Unit, said they had nothing to do with the disruption of Winky D’s concert.
“We insist that artistes should submit their albums to the censorship board first then once it is cleared they can proceed with the launch. But Winky D didn’t submit his album. However, we were not responsible for disrupting his performance. You remember his previous album launch (Njema) was only cleared at the eleventh hour after submitting the required documents and the album. And it doesn’t cost much to submit an album for reviewing,” Mugomeri said.
Winky D has always been consistent with his messages, singing for the poor and downtrodden.
He mirrors the society in which he lives alongside friends, relatives and millions of fellow countrymen.
It was the same with the likes of Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi during the liberation war.
Mtukudzi would sing music that resonated with the aspirations of Zimbabwean against the racist Ian Smith regime and the same applied to Mapfumo whose Chimurenga music became the soundtrack to the liberation struggle.