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Does Bona Mugabe's censorship board still exist?

29 Jul 2019 at 11:58hrs | Views
The last time the nation heard of a Censorship board was when Ignatius Chombo was the Minister of Home Affairs.

Then Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo announced a new Board of Censors that was to face the colossal task of regulating public entertainment in the digital age. The appointment of the board was in terms of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act Chapter 10: 4. The board was very colourful if not controversial and included Former Cabinet minister, educationist and historian Cde Aeneas Chigwedere who was to chair the board and would be deputised by Mrs Konzani Ncube the Provincial Administrator of Bulawayo Metropolitan province.

Other members were set to include Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, former President Mugabe's daughter Mrs Bona Chikore, Mrs Runyararo Magadzire, Chief Nyamukoho Samson Katsande, Mr Regis Chikowore, Mr Shingai Rukwata Ndoro, Mr Chenjerai Daitai, Mr Tungamirai Muganhiri and Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori.

The board was tasked with playing a critical role in controlling and regulating the media and film industry and examining any article or public entertainment submitted to it.

On announcing the board , then Minister Chombo told journalists after the announcement that the board, which would serve for five years instead of the previous three, had been entrusted with safeguarding people's rights and trust. The nation last heard of the board during the announcement and there hasn't been any word or action since then. The nation's moral fibre is decaying and the entertainment world is surely losing the sense of Ubuntu and one wonders whether we still have a Censorship board in Zimbabwe.

Obscenities in Zimdancehall

The Zimdancehall genre is a worrying genre that has lost all respect for our cultural values and persona as Zimbabweans. The misogyny and berating of women is embarrassing for an educated nation like ours. Women are reduced to mere sex objects in most Zimdancehall songs , music is no longer about love it is about sex , lust and being a macho man.

The boys and girls in the Zimdancehall genre have found ways of smuggling dirty lyrics onto day time radio. We have seen the upsurge of raunchy lyrics such as Jah Signal's Stonyeni. Loosely translated Stonyeni means sex or at most a woman's private parts. Boom Beto sang about kudonhedza musika which basically is a song about a woman's behind. These songs are being played on day time radio.

The Zimhiphop genre has also decided not to be outdone and they are coming up with hideous lyrics of all sorts and manner which are making their way to radio stations and thoroughly enjoying airplay. Zimbabwean prolific rapper Stunner pulled a shocker on us when he released a track titled Hure rekure , these are obscene songs which berate our women and should be banned completely.

Radio Self Censorship

Zimbabwe's media reforms have seen the introduction of private radio stations, these private radio stations unlike the state owned media have relaxed regulations around them. There is a strong need for these radio stations , Star FM , ZiFM and all their subsidiaries and other private players to practice self regulation and voluntary censorship for the good of the nation. Our moral fibre as a people is of paramount importance and it begins with what we expose our children to in the entertainment sector.

The print media has a Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe and maybe radio stations operating in Zimbabwe need a similar platform. Peer monitoring and regulation works and this was proven by the Tafadzwa Musarara lead Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe who embarked on a self regulation exercise which saw the price of grain products stabilising.

All station executives , presenters and broadcasters need to carry out a bit of self introspection and ensure that they are playing a positive role towards building a better Zimbabwe.

Tribal slurs and mockery on radio

The Ndebele language has suffered various forms of abuse on some of these radio stations and even music lyrics. Words are improperly pronounced , the Ndebele are mocked in several ways and it's okay for that to be on radio ? Certainly not !!!

There is a very derogatory track by a Zimdancehall artist titled Umdala wethu . This track makes a starkmockery of the Ndebele language and its people. It's a shame that it takes its name from Father Zimbabwe Joshua NKOMO who was popularly known as Umdala wethu.

While the constitution of Zimbabwe provides for freedom of expression and artistic expression those freedoms should not disrespect the language and culture of others.

 Thee same Constitution through the Act of Parliament empowers the Board of Censors to ensure that these freedoms are reasonably limited so that they do not infringe on other people's rights.

In today's environment where there is heightened scrutiny by members of the public, Internet and social media use, the censorship board might be faced by many challenges in administering the Act that empowers them, there is need for Cyber regulatory acts to also empower the Board of Censors.

Radio presenters are also dishing out fictitious facts and churning out poison of dangerous proportions on day time radio. What are they teaching our kids ? What type of society do they hope to build ? Is this the modern way of doing things ? Is this the media reform and freedom we have been advocating for ? It is now risky if not dangerous to listen to some radio stations with respectable people near or around you.

Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Information please intervene

While media reform is of paramount importance, we need to ensure that we have good reforms and not dangerous reforms. We still have a society to build and societal norms to uphold. We have children that still need to be raised in good , clean and sane environments. Our broadcasters are poisoning our children with all the misogyny, sexual predator type of lyrics and everything that is deemed morally wrong.The ministry of Information doesn't seem bothered by the conduct of presenters , music selectors and artists while on national radio. The ministry of Home Affairs who are the custodians of the Censors board is no where to be seen or found. Who then shall we turn to ? We need mature , family friendly broadcasts during day time radio.

I would like to openly challenge Ministry of  Information Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana to take up the issue with his counterpart in the ministry of Home Affairs and do something to save our society and the little that is left of our moral fibre.

That Umdala wethu song is an insult to the Ndebele language and Ndebele people it needs to be banned and taken off the airwaves.

Nick Ncube is a researcher and blogger based in Ontario Canada and is originally from Tsholotsho

Source - Nicholas Ncube
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