The event which was organised by media lobby group, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) and Nhasi Mangwana, was to take place at Warren Park One shopping Centre in Harare.
According to a statement by the organisations the “Free Our Airwaves” concert was cancelled by Warren Park police without notice although the police had initially sanctioned the event.
“Police have cancelled MISA and ADZT ‘Free our Airwaves concert’ which was scheduled for today at Warren Park 1 Shops citing newspaper article as the reason,” read a statement by the organisations.
The organisations have been holding public shows in the form of roadshows, concerts and public meetings in the last three years advocating for the opening up of airwaves.
The organisations have also organised similar events to lobby for the opening up of the country’s media space. Partly due to their pressure, the inclusive government has since licensed a number of newspapers, among them the Daily News which was closed in 2004.
However despite the marked improvement in the availability of diverse voices in the print media the electronic media remains firmly in the hands of the state. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) remains a monopoly in the sector despite wide spread public condemnation of its biased reportage.
The ban of MISA’s road shows comes at a time when the country’s leading human rights campaigner, the Zimrights plans to embark on musical concerts and road-shows as part of a nationwide campaign against torture as allegations of brutality against the country’s security forces continue to emerge.
Reports from human rights defenders such as the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Peace Project and the Zimbabwe NGO Forum indicate that state security agents have no qualms in subject political prisoners to torture and other degrading human treatment.
But Okay Machisa, the national director of Zim-Rights said on Friday his organisation had lined up several musical shows starting this week as part of a campaign against torture which he said had reached alarming levels in Zimbabwe.
Apart from musical shows and concerns, Machisa said Zim-rights was holding public meetings and intended holding bilateral meetings with state security agents.
“The culture of torture seems to be increasing especially caused by the state security agents. No one has the right to torture anyone,” said Machisa. On Friday Zim-Rights held a road show in Chiweshe while on Saturday it held another one in Banket, both Zanu (PF) strongholds.
“We are not talking about physical torture but emotional torture as well. Some of our meetings are being outlawed by police while some of our officers have been arrested on flimsy grounds,” he added.
There is a general consensus that state security agents have resorted to torture as a weapon to cow opponents of President Robert Mugabe.
More than twenty activists of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party arrested over allegations of killing a policeman in May have stated that they were torture by police.