The High Court has dismissed an urgent chamber application that sought to interdict the banning of the play, No Voice, No Choice.
REPORT BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
The play was banned two weeks ago by the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe after it was deemed “inciteful and against the spirit of national healing and reconciliation”.
The producers of the play were preparing for their maiden performance at Intwasa Festival, which kicks off in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
High Court Judge Justice Gurainesu Mawadze ruled that the matter was not urgent, thus effectively ruling out the play’s much anticipated performances at the festival.
In a statement, Tawanda Zhuwara of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said: “The judge did not dismiss the case on its merit but rather that it could not be heard on an urgent basis, so we are now proceeding in terms of Section 19 of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act to appeal the decision of the Censorship Board”.
Producer, writer and director of the play, Tafadzwa Muzondo, expressed disappointment at the development.
“We had hoped that the urgent application would help us get our concerns heard in time for Intwasa, but unfortunately this has not been successful,” said Muzondo.
“It is unfortunate that the play is being given a distorted meaning and the whole affair has been blown out of proportion. We are victims, at the end of the day, since we have been stopped from practising our source of livelihood (theatre).
“We are consulting other relevant authorities and getting guidance from our lawyers as we seek to have our case heard and the ban lifted.”
He said he had spoken to Raisedon Baya, the director of Intwasa Festival, who said the play had a slot at the festival, hoping it would get the High Court nod.
“He had kept our slot open, pending the outcome of the application, but it is clear the performances cannot go ahead as the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act spells out clearly the consequences of staging a banned play,” he said.
“From a producer’s point of view, this renders 150 full-colour A2 posters promoting the play at Intwasa useless.
“It also means adjustment of prior agreements and all efforts that had been made in preparation for our participation at Intwasa are going down the drain … not to mention the loss to eight artists and two crew members, who were expecting some income from the performances.”