Zimbabwe's Music Star Zhakata Calls For The Freeing Of The Airwaves

Zhakata who was speaking in Harare at the Quill Club, Harare’s press club during a panel discussion focusing on the country’s censorship policies, said: “It is very important that the airwaves are opened up to many players.”

“There is nothing bad in opening up the airwaves. All it does is to enrich ideas and lead to the development of the country,” said Zhakata at a media, censorship and media freedom discussion organised by the Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZT) and Media Institute of Southern Africa Harare chapter.

Zhakata said his music was unfairly banned from the airwaves without any official communication from the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)  after it was perceived to be holding strong political messages allegedly criticising President Robert Mugabe’s controversial rule.

He said he was not granted the platform to explain the meaning of the lyrics, which he said he derived from seeing everyday happenings in life. He said political messages found in his music were coincidental.

“I don’t know if it’s an official ban or unofficial but I monitored and I discovered that some of my music is not played,” said the soft speaking Zhakata.

“If we had more radio stations maybe there could have been someone who could have understood my music.”

Zhakata came to prominence with his smash hit Mugove sings a blend of thought provoking music which answers to some of Zimbabwe’s societal, economic and political problems.

His troubles with the authorities started in 2006 when he spoke passionately about the need to free the airwaves. Immediately after making those comments his music started getting lukewarm airplay. Some of his albums such as Hondo and Mubikira have assumed the unofficial ban tag because of the sharp lyrics contained in the songs.

He said several radio stations operating out of Zimbabwe suich as Radio VOP, Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa were not pirate but Zimbabwean radio stations operating out of the country.

Zhakata also dispelled assertions he sympathised with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party saying he remained apolitical.

“I am not a member of any political party and I do not think I need to produce a card of any party to have my music played on ZBC,” he said.

He also accused parliamentarians, magistrates and police officers as being among the violators of the country’s anti-piracy laws.

“As musicians, piracy has destroyed our careers,” he said adding that if he were to be allowed to inspect six cars belonging to MPs at random, he had no doubt he would find plenty of pirated CDs.