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artists arrested over Final Push play
Tafirei Shumba, ZimOnline
October 02, 2007
HARARE - A
Zimbabwean journalist and two theatre artists were arrested in Harare
at the weekend during the performance of a satirical play depicting
the eight-year political crisis in the country.
James Jemwa and actors Slyvanos Mudzvova and Anthony Tongani, were
arrested during the performance of the play, The Final Push and
were still being detained at Harare Central police station last
The title of
the play is taken from Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC)'s failed protest march organised in 2003 against President
Robert Mugabe's government.
failed after Mugabe sent armed soldiers onto the streets to crush
the planned rebellion.
A police officer
who refused to be named confirmed the arrest of the three but refused
to disclose the charges being preferred against the artists.
are here and so what do you want?" said the police officer
as he slammed the phone when contacted by ZimOnline.
the play's technical director and producer, said the three were
arrested at Theatre-In-The-Park, a prime theatre venue in central
plain-clothes police officers who were seated in the audience had
watched the controversial play half-way through when they stormed
the backstage where they dragged Mudzvova and Tongani to a police
Jemwa who was
filming the play, was also arrested when he went backstage to investigate
what was going on, forcing scores of theatre lovers to storm out
of the venue during the commotion.
are being engaged to assist the three and we have also alerted the
Lawyers for Human Rights for assistance.
is a travesty of justice and an affront to freedom of expression.
Our space for public debate and free expression is shrinking daily,"
the play, which was cleared by the state's Censorship Board, did
not advocate the violent removal of Mugabe from power but urges
dialogue between the veteran 83-year old Zimbabwean leader and MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
have over the past seven years arrested theatre artists and stopped
plays they said were targeting Mugabe.
such as Thomas Mapfumo and Leonard Zhakata have also been banned
from the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for allegedly
singing songs deemed critical of Mugabe.
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