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Zimbabwe's dead take on the author of their misery in provocative play
Nqobizitha Khumalo, ZimOnline
October 09, 2007

Zimbabwean theatre producer Cont Mhlanga is bracing for a fresh confrontation with President Robert Mugabe's government over a controversial play that is set to premiere in Bulawayo this weekend.

The play entitled "Overthrown," is a gripping story of Zimbabwe's eight-year political and economic crisis that Western governments and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party blame on repression and bad management by President Robert Mugabe.

The story begins with dead bodies lying in a mortuary. The bodies suddenly come alive and accuse the President of being the author of their misery. The ghosts eventually decide to walk to State House to assassinate the president.

The play, written by Stanley Makuwe and directed by Mhlanga, is scheduled to run at Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo from the 12th to the 13 of October 2007.

The provocative play has already triggered shrills of protests from state agents and other government supporters with for example, the state-controlled Bulawayo daily, The Chronicle newspaper, allegedly refusing to carry adverts publicising the play.

Mhlanga claimed that editors at the Chronicle had refused to carry adverts and any promotional material for the play in a move he said was tantamount to curtailing free expression.

"The Chronicle which is the only daily paper in the Bulawayo region has informed us that they are not allowed by their superiors to publish adverts for the play. This is a blatant attempt to curtail freedom of expression," said Mhlanga.

The editor of the Chronicle, Brezhnev Malaba, could not be reached for comment on the matter last night.

This is not the first time that Mhlanga has had brushes with the Zimbabwean government. Two months ago, state security agents violently stopped the premiere of Mhlanga's political satire, The Good President.

The police said the organisers had not sought permission to stage the play as required under the country's Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Under the tough Act, Zimbabweans must first seek permission from the police before sitting down in groups of more than three people to discuss politics.

An increasingly paranoid Zimbabwean government has over the past seven years used the tough security laws to ban cultural works that they say are meant to stir the people to rise against the government.

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