Lawyers Challenge Censorship Board Over Banned Play

The Board of Censors chairman only identified as Malaba last week banned the play “No Voice No Choice” written by prominent theatre practitioner Tafadzwa Muzondo, alleging that it was “inciteful and against the spirit of national healing and reconciliation”.

The ban could affect the desire by the promoters of the play who had planned to participate at the annual Intwasa Arts Festival which runs from 12 to 22 September in Bulawayo.

In the court application, the ZLHR lawyers, Tawanda Zhuwarara and Bellinda Chinowawa, want the high court to issue an order interdicting the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe and its functionaries from preventing the staging of the performance at any venue in Zimbabwe and permit Muzondo and his Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project to perform the play at the Intwasa Arts Festival.

In August, ZLHR had to turn to the Masvingo Magistrates Courts to quash a police ban on the play aimed at exhorting peace and reconciliation after years of conflict in Zimbabwe.

A court interdict, which was granted by Magistrate Jabulani Zinyati on August 2, 2012, came after human rights lawyer Collin Maboke instituted urgent proceedings in the form of an ex-parte application challenging the police ban of the play.

The police through Chief Superintendent Nyapfuri, the Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Republic Police Masvingo Central District had banned the public performance of “No Voice No Choice”, a production by two community theatre groups, Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts Ensemble.

This is the fourth time in less than two years that ZLHR has had to intervene in defence of freedom of expression and to safeguard artists’ rights in Zimbabwe.

In February last year, ZLHR fought on behalf of Rooftop Promotions and obtained an interdict from Bulawayo Magistrate Rose Dube barring the police from prohibiting the theatre production group from staging a theatre performance entitled “Rituals”.

This was after the police through Chief Superintendent R. N Masina of Bulawayo Central Police Station had banned the public performance of Rituals on the basis that they could not sanction the performance of the play because the government was already attending to issues of national healing through the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.

In September last year, ZLHR also successfully challenged the police ban of the Gwanda-based Jahunda Community Theatre play entitled “1983, the years before and after, a play on the past disturbances seeking to establish true National Healing, true peace and true reconciliation.”