Police knock back The Coup, again

HARARE - A police clampdown on Rooftop Promotions’ play The Coup continued in Gweru on Monday where the play was banned just a day after a successful performance at Amakhosi Cultural Centre in Bulawayo.

The Coup, written by New Zealand-based playwright, Stanley Makuwe takes a dig at the problems that have plagued the country in the last few years resulting in the total collapse of service delivery, the economy and industry.

It is not the first time that it has been banned and theatre practitioners are getting really worried about the law enforcement agents’ conduct.

The Coup, which had previously been banned in Bindura, resumed what was supposed to be a national tour in Bulawayo on Sunday but a day later Gweru police barred the play.

A defiant Rooftop director, Daves Guzha admitted to the Daily News yesterday that the ban would not deter his theatre house.

“We gave them our paperwork two weeks ago and they were just sitting on it”, said Guzha.

“When we got to Gweru an officer identified as Maregere told us that if we went ahead we would be arrested. He said they wanted to watch the play on DVD first or we would be arrested.

“Now we have pulled the plug on the show, we came back (to Harare) on Monday night. I think it also has to do with the police internal security issues and I have been trying to get hold of him to no avail. He is not taking my calls as we want to understand what made them stop us,” he said.

Guzha wants Zimbabwean theatre practitioners to urgently meet the police top brass.

“We are beginning to witness lawlessness and injustice being practised on the theatre industry.

“I think as captains of industry we should sit down with the police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri and he must explain whether theatre is a recognised profession or not.

“If it is not then they should clarify, if it is they should leave us alone and stop disrupting us.

“On this one we are willing to go the full mile and do whatever it takes to keep the industry alive. There is no law that says theatre is illegal and we will not be deterred,” he said.

Guzha said right now they have engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to handle the issue.

“On the Mashonaland Central issue ZLHR is handling it and we will engage them again. We realise now that this is a serious clampdown on the industry and we cannot just sit down and watch police disrupting us,” he said.

When contacted for comment, Maregere’s phone was answered but the person denied knowing Maregere or being a policeman.

Playwright and theatre practitioner Tafadzwa Muzondo’s play No Voce No Choice was frustrated by the police and the censorship board.

The play was banned from showcasing in Mutare as well as Masvingo.

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