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Zimbabwe Standard newspaper bans protest singer
Talking of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. Banned protest singer Viomak has had another share of sour grapes after she was told that her musical stories will not be published in an independent paper in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Standard.
The singer, whose musical stories are also banned in State media received the news through an email from a Zimbabwe standard reporter, Vusumuzi Sifile-Sibanda. The reason is that she suspected the reporter of being Mugabe’s CIO after he asked her for confidential and personal information, including her real name when she was preparing to travel to Zimbabwe . This is an understandable suspicion which is also justified by the fact that a senior political reporter of the Standard’s sister paper, the Zimbabwe independent, Augustine Mukaro was recently suspended, for allegedly leaking a story to Mugabe’s CIO’s. Considering Viomak’s musical career she has every reason to be careful of who she gives her personal details .Mugabe’s CIO’s have infiltrated even Zimbabwean churches and it will be very careless of her to give Zimbabwean reporters her personal details many of who are never to be trusted with information given to them.
During the launch of VOTO(Voices Of The Oppressed) protest radio station, as her publicity officer ,I circulated a story informing media houses of the project so that they could assist in publicizing the issue as we called for Zimbabwe protest artists to bring their work for free airplay .In the process Viomak emailed the story to the Zimbabwe standard reporter so as to have the word reach protest artists in Zimbabwe ,who happen to be the most affected by the government’s laws which criminalize any art that criticizes president Mugabe. After Viomak followed up on the article she received the email below from the reporter,
“I had given the article to a colleague here at The Standard. As you may be aware, I am now reporting more on politics than the arts. But after the CIO thing, we have agreed not to carry the article. I am still disturbed and greatly disappointed, and my workmates share the same feelings.”
The ban actually confirmed Viomak‘s suspicions when she said,
“This is just a way of silencing my musical voice, so as to please ZANU PF. Their aim is to completely ban the existence of my voice in Zimbabwe .All it does is to kill the freedom of expression in Zimbabwe by people who purport to be independent reporters when they are actually ZANU PF sympathizers. Why should someone worry about mere suspicions which can be false? I have the right to freedom of opinion and if people don’t want to be suspected of being what they are not then they should stop behaving suspiciously. However this behaviour speaks volumes on the quality of journalism and the professionalism of Zimbabwean reporters many of who are not trained enough to adhere to the ethics of journalism, but end up being mouthpieces of specific individuals and organizations. My situation was only manipulated to push Mugabe’s agendas. It’s typical of Mugabe’s CIO’s. The paper‘s behaviour is also testimony to the problems many Zimbabweans are facing when it comes to dealing with their media. Some Zimbabwe journalists want kickbacks, some prefer to write stories about American celebrities and so on. The problems you face are worse if you are a woman.”
Whilst MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa)- Zimbabwe, claims to be advancing the aims and objectives of the Windhoek declaration, that promotes a non-partisan and independent media that informs, entertains and educates one wonders how independent reporters who don’t promote media freedom and enhance ethical journalism for the benefit of society ,as per their mission statement ,get away with such unprofessional behavior.
“If independent media help in oppressing dissenting musical voices whose agendas are they upholding?” she asked.
Viomak who is not regretting the ban said she is used to being banned and this addition to her list of enemies only proves that the Zimbabwe Standard is manned by cowards who don’t like challenges from women.
Apart from this drawback she is pleased that the Zimbabwean cause through her music continues to touch many people who share her concerns about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. In June 2009 the protest musician cum political activist was invited to participate at the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression which was held in Norway to discuss free expression issues through various engagements. Said to be the only Forum event of its kind, the conference gathered activists from different regions and sectors, from different professions and cultures, working with different problems and in different political contexts, but joined by a common interest in freedom of expression.
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Voto music productions advocates for freedom of artistic freedom and fights for Zimbabwe human rights specialising in freedom of expression.