Bryan Adams under fire over Zim gig

HARARE - It’s the biggest event to hit Zimbabwe in years. Within 10 hours of the announcement that Bryan Adams would be performing in Harare, every ticket was sold out — and at prices that most ordinary Zimbabweans could never afford.

The concert on Friday by the Canadian rock singer — the highest-profile Western star to visit the impoverished African country for many years — is being welcomed eagerly by many Zimbabweans who yearn for an end to their long isolation on the world stage.

But some worry that it could also give legitimacy to President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for the past 34 years.

The Harper government is among those who might be less than happy with the Adams concert, though it has said little publicly.

Last year, it boycotted a United Nations tourism conference in Zimbabwe, after questioning Mugabe’s latest claim of election victory.

It has expressed “profound concerns” over human-rights violations in Zimbabwe and it has maintained sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle despite the election results.

Some of Mugabe’s critics in Zimbabwe’s media and political circles are concerned the Adams’s visit could give “comfort” to the Mugabe government. But the star’s handlers are dismissing the criticism.

“Bryan is an international artist with a worldwide audience, whether it is Pakistan or Vietnam or Zimbabwe,” said Bruce Allen, the long-time manager of the Canadian star, in an e-mail on Monday.

“To paraphrase what he has said over the course of his 30-plus year career, “Everywhere he goes — kids wanna rock.”

“Music will, I hope, always remain a universal language.”

Adams was scheduled to arrive in South Africa this month, and his Zimbabwe show was added for Friday, a day before his first South African gig.

All of the nearly 3 500 tickets at the Harare International Conference Centre were quickly snapped up, at prices ranging from $30 to $100.

“Zimbabweans have a real hunger for contact with the outside world,” said Petina Gappah, a Zimbabwean novelist.

International attempts to impose sanctions on the Mugabe government are failing, she said.

“Isolation has not worked. I think engagement is the way to go.”

In fact, some governments — including the European Union — have reduced their sanctions on Zimbabwe in recent years.

“There’s been a creeping normalisation of relations,” said Brian Raftopoulos, a leading analyst of Zimbabwean politics.

“There is a slow movement towards re-engagement with Mugabe and his government.”

But some Zimbabweans are outraged by the concert.

“He’s creating a false comfort zone,” said Vince Musewe, a Zimbabwean newspaper columnist who believes the election last year was rigged.

“It’s inappropriate, and it’s not going to help. He could have contributed to transformation by refusing to perform.

“High-profile people should refuse to go to African countries where ordinary people are fighting their rulers.” At a time of widespread poverty and unemployment in Zimbabwe, the Adams concert will only benefit the country’s elite, he said.

He compared it to a performance in Angola by American singer Mariah Carey, who was reportedly paid $1million to perform for Angola’s authoritarian leader, José Eduardo dos Santos.

David Coltart, a human-rights lawyer and opposition leader who served as minister of education, arts and culture in a coalition cabinet in Zimbabwe from 2009 until last year, said he is “of two minds” about the concert.

“On the one hand, it is good that he has come because that opens up political space, but I hope he comes with his eyes open and does not take a superficial view of what is going on,” he said.

“There is no doubt that this will be a concert mainly attended by the elite.”

In the past, the Zimbabwean government has brought singers to Harare as “celebrity hosts” to promote tourism, but most were lesser-known performers, including Jamaican reggae singers.

On Monday, in response to the Bryan Adams concert, a spokesperson for Canada Foreign Affairs minister John Baird said: “We will continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe to foster a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for all — one that respects the fundamental human rights of the Zimbabwean people.

“We hope that would be the goal for all those visiting Zimbabwe.”

Comments (16)

Ini hangu handioni chakaipa kuti afadze vane vevhu nekuti haasi poritizhieni kauyu . Tikada kupinza politics nepasingaitiwo apo ndinoti hazvishandi ehe ZANU PF takaimakapa asi moda kuti vaise mbiradzakondo kumamusician futi . Regai vana vevhu vose vafare pavanodira chikuru pasina ropa rinoteugwa . Ko iye Adams haadarikiwo nekuMberengwa timuonewo zvokwadi

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 22 January 2014

is this not a leakage of our meager resources because that band is going to collect hundreds of usd from our impoverished economy and take the money to canada. if the guy was playing for charity,then it was going to be a lot better for the country

mutonhodza - 22 January 2014

Vince Museve you have the hatred of a snake towards ZANU PF & the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans, a snake which bites to kill what it won't eat. “High-profile people should refuse to go to African countries where ordinary people are fighting their rulers.” Are you serious about this Vince? Which ordinary Zimbabweans are fighting their rulers nhaiwe learned newspaper columnist? You are mad!

Rwizi - 22 January 2014

Ordinary Zimbabweans can not afford to fight against their rulers for simple reasons that they will face the barrel of the gun and indeed they will perish.If opposition politicians of a registered political party can be beaten like dogs by state security agents imagine what would happen to ordinary people? Everybody knows that the power of the state will crush the power of the people. Zimbabweans can only whisper in the deep about their plight. A few people connected to the ruling party are enjoying life and investing well for their children. The rest are just dreaming and hoping. But Bryan Adams is well come to Zimbabwe to rock us with his music. We are just tired of this urban groove genre of music. I wish they could bring in U2, Dire Straits, Guns and Roses, Rod Stewart, White Snake to mention a few rock bands.

KILO - 22 January 2014

people like Vince musewe are not good in the society of Zimbabwe...what he always do is to fuel division amongst the Zimbabwean population and the rest of the World....he want to see Zimbabwe becoming like CAR...he do not want to see an development happening in our peaceful country...Zimbabwe is the safest country ever in the world...people of Zimbabwe do not like be like this Vince Musewe who still pushing for the unrest in Zimbabwe...Vince accept defeat and wait for the coming of General elections in 2018....BRYAN ADAMS is in Zimbabwe for his business,please don't disturb his Tour.....your bussiness project failed in last year hamonised elections...your MDC-T project will never,never rule will die crying.........

silungisani ndlovu - 22 January 2014

$75 000+ will be siphoned from our economy without community sharing. Beware, this could be a way of sabotaging our economy. Hope its building bridges effort and nothing more.

oweleyes - 22 January 2014

Gore Rino!!! - 22 January 2014

I can see pple ar crying ,he is going to take all the money back home , but if you ask a tourism expert hw our beloved nation lost billions of dollars coz of the bad publicity the money he is going to be paid its nothing . If we build a good image of our beloved country with the likes of this guys our tourism industry will mushroom and it is going to create a lot jobs for many pple . Zvimwe iwo matourist angauyawo kuzoonawo makudo neMakomo kuMberengwa basa robva ramuka kuvapfana vangu varikushuma mumapurazi emaboer paJoni .

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 22 January 2014

Vincent Musewe, its high time you should think like a human being...Who are you to tell the world that the musician must not come....Iwe, there people who have cash in Zimbabwe ok..Uri mhata yemombe you think kana usina mari vanhu vose havana here...pamhata pako Vincent Musewe..go back and eat bananas in Mutare ok.......Zim is now using international currency so why should the singer not come to entertain vanhu vano farira music yake. Wakafa mutezo iwe

Clemence Tashaya - 22 January 2014

zvinei nesu izvo zveporitiksi ngaauye arowe mabhanjo tifare. handiti haasi kuridzira mahara

goodmunhu - 22 January 2014

zvinei nesu izvo zveporitiksi ngaauye arowe mabhanjo tifare. handiti haasi kuridzira mahara

goodmunhu - 22 January 2014

Dai ari a prophet coming to Zimbabwe and people seed to his annointing we could be reading all sorts of insult that he is stealing money from the poor. BUT when zviri zvenyika noone speaks zvninongonzi every thing is normal. It is so sad,. Handiti??? people work up

Mentor - 23 January 2014

Vince Museve is a loose cannon just like his surname.Always on the offensive.Nothing good ever comes from a Zanu (pf) ruled Zimbabwe as far as he is concerned.Ironically even MDC politicians are withdrawing their election petitions in the courts one by one but still our Vince Museve continues in his lone battle to discredit the government.As for Bryan Adams I see him more as a pensioner rock star trying to earn an extra dollar for his retirement but I hope his presence in Zimbabwe will boost our image and attract tourist confidence from the multitudes of westerners who keep tags on stars like Adams.

tmutekwe - 23 January 2014

It looks like this newspaper is only after regime change. I have never read anything positive about zim coming from this paper. Zanu pf is in power and thats not going to change for the next 4 yrs accept it and start reporting proper news. Bryan Adams is coming to Zim period. What has that got to do with Mugabe?

Nyakudirwa - 23 January 2014

Bryan Adams is just a singer and has nothing to do with politics and anyway its time we all work for our betterment if there is such a word than to keep on crying shape up

chigumbu - 24 January 2014

Hours after the show, having the pictures who attended and filled the halls, i wonder the writer, his contributors and all those who were saying things about who owns the money in Zimbabwe has to say now!!!

laughed - 25 January 2014

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