Gallery Director Summoned Over Gukurahundi Exhibition

Thebe was confirmed two weeks ago as the director of the Gallery after serving in an acting capacity since the departure of Adelis Sibutha last year to join the office of Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khuphe.

Thebe confirmed receiving the summons.

“The papers came…and will be going there next week. We will see how it goes,” he said.

Thebe is accused of allowing Maseko to hold an  art exhibition on the atrocities of the Gukurahundi by the Robert Mugabe regime.

Maseko was also arrested and  granted bail at the end of March after spending a weekend behind bars.
The artist was arrested at the National Gallery in Bulawayo along with the gallery curator, BBC southern Africa correspondent Karen Allen.

According to human rights campaigners, the Public Order and Security Act is being used to stifle political dissent in Zimbabwe.

Maseko’s arrest came just days after police closed a photography exhibition in Harare showing recent human rights violations by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters. One of the main subjects of the Bulawayo exhibition was the massacre of tens of thousands of ethnic Ndebeles in Matabeleland by the Zimbabwe military after the country achieved independence in 1980.

They were accused of supporting Mugabe’s political rival, Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe is currently in a power-sharing government with another long-time opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. But Tsvangirai’s supporters say they are still being persecuted by the security forces.

Meanwhile the Censorship Board has announced that it is now a crime for artists to perform without
an entertainment licence issued by them.

The latest move by the Censorship Board is seen as an attempt to muzzle artists.

The entertainment licence which is also applicable to public places providing entertainment such as cinema houses shall be renewable every year. Individual artists are required to pay USD 25 a year while
institutions will be required to pay USD 155 a year.

Officials at the Censorship Board told Radio VOP that the move had always been provided for under the Censorship and Entertainment Act Chapter 10:04.

“This is not a new thing it has always been there but it’s just that it was not applied strictly and artists have been performing illegally,” said Solomon Chitungo an official at the Censorship Board.

“The certificate will be valid for 12 months. It’s just like a drivers licence, we are also just issuing a licence to provide entertainment and if one is to be found without the certificate we will stop the show and confiscate their equipment.”

The Censorship law that the board is using to regulate performances of artists is an outdated piece of legislation which was enacted during the Ian Smith Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) era in 1964. It was later amended by the National Arts Council but still retains most of the clauses that criminalise artists for creating critical works of art.

Many artists have fallen prey to the law from musicians, theatre practitioners to poets.

For example artists such as Leonard Zhakata still can’t get airplay on ZBC since the time he released his Mugove album while theatre practitioners such as Silvanos Mudzvova have been arrested and arraigned before the courts for producing critical theatre plays such as Waiting for the Constitution.