Why shoot ourselves in the foot?

HARARE - The deportation of South African band Freshlyground last week is a poor decision that is going to trigger unwelcome bad publicity at a time Zimbabwe should be doing everything possible to show that we are a working democracy averse to intolerance.

While immigration authorities have sarcastically attributed the deportation to the fact that “their permit had not yet been processed so they could not be allowed to enter the country,” it is clear to most Zimbabweans that the group was barred from entering the country because of the 2010 song and comedy skit titled Chicken to Change which allegedly mocked President Robert Mugabe.

The explanation from the authorities that the application for the Temporary Employment Permits (TEPs) for the South African group was done late is comical because it was done at the same time with other foreign groups who went on to be granted the right to perform at the just-ended Harare International festival of the Arts (Hifa).

If Hifa made applications for all the foreign bands late why did the country’s immigration department grant TEPs to all the other groups except Freshlyground?

It is very clear that the authorities are just not prepared to admit that the deportation of the South African group is a vindictive and belated punishment for the four-year-old Chicken to Change.

But if the Zimbabwean government was really so frightened of this small South African group why did the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) clear the group and even more importantly, why did the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority  (Zimra) accept tax for a band that the government did not want to perform?

It would appear that the authorities underestimated the impact of their totally uncalled for decision.

Chances are that if Freshlyground had been allowed to perform in the country not many would have remembered Chicken to Change which had somehow sunk into obscurity.

But thanks to the deportation, many Zimbabweans are now itching to lay their hands on this song and comedy that has raised temperatures in the corridors of power.

By banning Freshlyground from entering Zimbabwe, our intolerant authorities have actually achieved the opposite of what they intended-they have given Chicken to Change a new lease of life and bad publicity that our economically-battered country can do without.

Zimbabwe’s drive to get badly-needed foreign investment can only materialise if we create a positive vibe.

Banning a foreign group from performing at our biggest international festival that attracts foreign artistes and fans is hardly the way to do it.

Comments (7)

This country may be poor economically bt that does nt mean our laws shud nt b respected by foreigners...as long as their papers are nt in order they shud be chucked out....Zimbabwe is not a door mat. wud u allow yo inlaws to dictate to u as their mkwasha jus becoz u r poor? Grow up.

parapinda - 11 May 2014

This country may be poor economically bt that does nt mean our laws shud nt b respected by foreigners...as long as their papers are nt in order they shud be chucked out....Zimbabwe is not a door mat. wud u allow yo inlaws to dictate to u as their mkwasha jus becoz u r poor? Grow up.

parapinda - 11 May 2014

kana vasina mapaper akakwana ngavadzokere ndozvatinoitwawo

truth - 12 May 2014

Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and we cannot tolerate denigration of our head of state by outsiders who try to double dip. Their antics where in bad taste and immigration officials must be applauded for their decision. They should learn manners.

magoo - 12 May 2014

It is very true that by deporting Freshly Ground the government has actually promoted advertised the group's chicken to change production. I didn't even know about it before but now I'm certain to look for it.

Dr Know - 12 May 2014

Mediocrity. Symptoms of something(s) terribly wrong at the top of the hierarchy of authority. What do you expect in an environment where bad is good, and good is bad ideology reigns supreme. Zvitori right izvozvi musyllubus yavo.

Watsomba - 20 May 2014

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