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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) 2011 - Index of articles, videos and images
of Hifa organisers uncalled for
April 29, 2011
The Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa)
is probably the biggest event around this time of the year after
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Hifa attracts hundreds of artists all over the world
and is a household arts event in Zimbabwe.
There are numerous economic spin-offs from the hosting
of the event, such as hotel occupation and increased business for
other industries that contribute to the success of Hifa.
No doubt, this is the sort of event that the government
should be supporting, not just because of the economic benefits
that accrue to the country, but also in view of the immense contribution
that such high-profile events make to the creation of a positive
image of the country.
It is a pedestrian statement of the obvious that
Zimbabwe has the negative tag of being an outpost of tyranny which
it should be working tirelessly to shrug off.
However, reports in yesterday's issue of our
newspaper on the arrest of the four of the organisers of Hifa who
were later released with no charges preferred against them, merely
serve to accentuate the claims that Zimbabwe is a country ruled
with an iron fist.
On occasions such as Hifa, the police should be
out in full force to provide security, especially for our visitors
so that they can take the message back home that Zimbabwe is a safe
As it is, the perception that they will carry back
to their homes is that democracy is alien to Zimbabwe and police
are merely an instrument of repression as evidenced by the harassment
of the Hifa organisers.
In this day and age of social media networks, it
is the height of foolishness to believe that governments can gag
The example of Egypt, where one of Africa's
worst despots, Hosni Mubarak, was ousted by people's power
speaks volumes of how oppressed people can rise and become an unstoppable
tsunami sweeping through the doors of state power.
What is even worse is that the arrest of the Hifa
organisers comes barely a week after NewsDay newsroom was raided
by forces of darkness who got away with critical computer equipment,
an act clearly intended to disable operations of the biggest selling
and fastest growing daily newspaper in Zimbabwe.
Zanu PF is always harping about illegal sanctions,
economic saboteurs and all that drivel, yet the real economic saboteurs
are those amidst us who do things that portray us in bad light on
the international arena - like overzealous police who arrested Hifa
Let us not be misunderstood here - we are not encouraging
lawlessness - not at all - but merely counselling the police to
uphold universally proclaimed rights such as freedom of expression
and freedom of association.
They should thoroughly investigate allegations of
whatever nature before taking in suspects.
It is also prudent to be tactful when dealing with
high- profile events such as Hifa as news of the slightest incidentspreads
like veld fire.
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