22 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Ladysmith Black Mambazo Refutes Mugabe Invitation Claims

Photo: Anna Berthold/Flickr
Ladysmith Black Mambazo

It turns out globally respected South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, did not want any diamonds on the soles of their feet after all.

State media reports on Thursday indicated that Ladysmith Black Mambazo had agreed to perform at President Robert Mugabe's inauguration, but these reports turned out to be false.

A government website and various media outlets claimed that the all-male a capella ensemble would join other popular international artistes such Congolese rhumba musician Koffie Olomide, Jamaican reggae outfit Black Uhuru, and Ndilimani Cultural Troupe from Namibia, and local musicians at the event.

The report said: "Award winning South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is expected in Zimbabwe today to join a galaxy of local and regional artistes who will entertain guests at President Mugabe's inauguration at the National Sports Stadium in Harare."

The report further quoted the director of urban communications in the Media, Information and Publicity Ministry, Major Anywhere Mutambudzi, who confirmed that the named groups would be entertaining Mugabe's guests at the grand affair.

But in an emailed response to SW Radio Africa's enquiry regarding the group's participation at Mugabe's ceremony, Ladysmith Black Mambazo expressed ignorance about the event.

"We are not participating in the event. We really don't know why it was reported that we would. We were never contacted nor did we ever accept any invitation," the group said.

Jethro Mpofu, a social and political commentator, said Ladysmith are not just known for their entertainment but also for their campaigns against injustice and it would have been shocking for them to endorse ZANU PF's plea for legitimacy.

"Ladysmith has through their music also raised awareness throughout the world about the suffering and injustices perpetrated against South Africa's black majority during the apartheid period."

Mpofu added: "It's all part of the ZANU PF gimmick to try and gain some semblance of legitimacy by associating themselves with credible, legitimate African voices."

In the run-up to the July 31st polls, popular South African musician Freddie Gwala, of the Amadamara fame, was heavily criticised after performing at campaign events organised by two ZANU PF heavyweights Obert Mpofu and Tshinga Dube.

Gwala not only chanted ZANU PF slogans but also urged Umguza revellers to vote for Mpofu in what popular playwright Cont Mhlanga described as "unprofessional" and "misguided".

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