The premiere of the much-anticipated war biopic Chinhoyi 7 has been scheduled for next Friday amid revelations that the movie debut could have been held back by re-editing of certain scenes that feature former president Robert Mugabe.
By Sindiso Dube
The “coming soon” tag of the movie, which was financed by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), has been lingering on local movie goers during the past three years. The 120-minute-long movie was supposed to have premiered at Ster Kinekor Borrowdale on March 16 this year, but it was moved due to what the producers claimed were “logistical challenges”.
However, sources told The Standard Style that the postponement was to do with revisiting of certain scenes deemed to be giving Mugabe “mileage”.
“Production of the movie started way back when Mugabe was still in power and some of the scenes support him. There are scenes where people spoke glowingly about him and there were scenes where slogans were chanted in his name, which is no longer the case in this ‘new dispensation’,” the source said.
“There was no way a biopic by the ZDF would have showered Mugabe with all sorts of praises when he was ousted by the military.”
However, movie director and main actor Moses Matanda (pictured right) refuted the claims, saying there were certain procedures that needed to be followed before the movie could be watched by the public.
“This is nothing, but just speculation. The movie was postponed because the President [Emmerson Mnangagwa] and the Cabinet wanted to watch it first,” Matanda said.
“They are the custodians of our heritage and Chinhoyi 7 tells a story that is pertinent in the history of our nation. Now that they have watched it and are impressed, the movie hits the cinemas on June 1.”
Matanda, who is not a member of the ZDF, said all was set for the long-awaited premiere.
“Everything is under control now and we are ready to share what we have been doing behind the scenes with the rest of the world,” he said.
The involvement of the ZDF in the movie has raised eyebrows, with some people questioning the role of the military in the project. The ZDF is said to have funded the project to the tune of $100 000.
Efforts to contact ZDF spokesperson Overson Mugwisi on the matter were fruitless yesterday as his mobile phone was not reachable. However, Matanda defended the role of the army in the movie.
“The army played a pivotal role in the production. They funded the production and they are the executive producers of the movie. They also provided the helicopters, guns and ammunition, as well as the soldiers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matanda admitted that he was linked to Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo — a retired army general.
“I am not a member of the army. I do films, that is my profession and I am also the CEO of Bar Rogue [a franchise of clubs] owned by Minister SB Moyo,” Matanda said.
Moyo rose to prominence in November last year when he announced the coup that toppled Mugabe.
Chinhoyi 7 is based on true events about seven liberation war fighters — David Guzuzu, Arthur Maramba, Christopher Chatambudza, Simon Chingosha Nyandoro, Godfrey Manyerenyere, Godwin Dube and Chubby Savanhu — who were killed by the Ian Smith regime in 1966 in Chinhoyi, a battle that signalled the start of the liberation war.