Nervous that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is getting ready to launch a violent campaign to end his 26 years of rule, the head of state has targeted poets, playwrights, satirists – even nightclub stand up comedians – and branded them all as “enemies of the people.”
Cont Mhlanga heads the Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. Last week he was picked up by the police and interrogated by the CIO for several hours.
“The police said they were interested in interviewing the actors in a play called Pregnant with Emotion written by Edgar Langeveldt. It tells the story of Marwei who is 13 months pregnant with her unborn child. The baby refuses to leave its mother’s womb until the country’s problems are solved.
“The police said it could not be staged in Bulawayo and they accused me of working with Archbishop Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo [Mugabe’s most outspoken critic] in mobilising people against the government.”
“As we’re talking,” Mhlanga told The Stage, “two detectives are standing outside the theatre, watching and waiting. It’s not easy here with the police checking on me every day. The aim, of course, is to intimidate actors and playwrights.”
Despite such intimidation, Mhlanga insists that Pregnant with Emotion will be shown to frightened but hungry theatregoers in Bulawayo in June.
“The CIO says that Archbishop Ncube and I have the same agenda and that we’re dangerous men in Matabeleland,” he added. “But we will not lie down. The play will be staged. We will not be destroyed by police agents who want to destroy art and culture throughout Zimbabwe.”
By TREVOR GRUNDY
Controversial Zimbabwean cultural activist and playwright Cont Mhlanga has claimed that he and other artists are living in round the clock fear following President Mugabe's decision to put Zimbabwe's Stasi-trained secret police - the Central Intelligence Organisation - on full