17 February 2019

Zimbabwe: Artistes Join Fight Against Graft

At the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Conference, which also organised an art programme against corruption, it was declared that art was "one of the best societal mediators of difficult messages -- it has always created a bridge between the comprehension and the expression of critical problems in society".

Just like many other countries, Zimbabwe has witnessed both visual and performing art displays promoting awareness and solidarity in fighting corruption.

In 1989, Thomas "Mukanya" Mapfumo released hits Corruption and Varombo Kuvarombo, which directly underlined the corruption phenomenon and its harm to development. Unheralded Mutoko-based musician Emmanuel Manyati weighed in, in 2014 with the release of the song Vatiurayira Nyika.

Through euphemism, ridicule and overt criticism, local artistes have been fighting for justice and freedom, including corruption, through music. To that effect, artistes who quickly come to mind include Leonard Zhakata, Hosiah Chipanga and the late Oliver Mtukudzi, among others.

It is against such a background that artistes in Zimbabwe -- upcoming and "the old horses" -- have joined the anti-graft bandwagon by promoting awareness through an anti-litter campaign dubbed "Corruption Pfee Mubin".

On Wednesday, artistes, including actor, dancer and multi-award winning choreographer John Cole, actress Kessia Magocha aka Muchaneta, singer Pauline Gundidza (popularly known as Mai Sky), Zimdancehall star Ras Caleb, reggae musician and television personality Trevor Hall aka Ras Jabu, Afro-jazz queen and Zimbabwe Union of Musicians chairperson Edith Weutonga and celebrity Fuzzy L, among others.

The "Corruption Pfee Mubin" campaign is among a cocktail of innovative strategies introduced by a local non-governmental organisation, Africa Innovation Trust (AIT), to tackle corruption. The campaign works hand in glove with a technological product ICU 'I See You'.

"AIT delivers tools and platforms that allow the public to report on corruption," said AIT lead resource Benjamin Nyandoro.

"The mobile application ICU 'I See You' on Android, iOS, and Windows devices, downloaded 'free', allows the public to report via [text, image, audio and video] on corruption.

"ICU responds to the bulk of the concerns often raised around reporting cases of corruption. Among the concerns are quality of evidence and safety of whistleblowers."

Nyandoro said technological innovation had the potential to tackle key issues in society, including corruption.

"By utilising advancements in technology, we are joining hands with the government and other organisations that are using other means to tackle the scourge in an effective manner," he said.

Weutonga said expressing anti-corruption messages through music would lead people to take the message seriously.

"I think as artistes we are a mirror of society and, as such, everything that we do is only just a reflection of what our society is and because of that, I feel artistes should not be threatened or intimidated for mirroring a society," she said.

"I think we need to speak out as much as possible on what kind of an ill corruption is on society through our music, through our posts as role models and through our actions be it in theatre or film.

"When issues to do with corruption are reported in newspapers, do we as artistes watch from the sidelines or we are here to speak about it? Let's not get angry with artistes who sing against corruption because it is our duty as the mirror of society and we shouldn't be intimidated. "

Ras Caleb, aka Caleb Tareka, who was part of the campaign on Wednesday, challenged citizens to love their country and guard against corruption.

The Tokwe Mukosi singer also urged public officials and leaders to join the call against corruption and not to squeeze the little that the public has for themselves.

In 2006, Amnesty International carried out a study that showed that concerts, festivals and social media were among the best ways to reach out to people.

"Like the exercise ['Corruption Pfee Mubin'], corruption is dirty and should not be part of our society. Just like uncollected garbage, it is our responsibility as society to make sure that our surroundings are clean," said Weutonga.

Nyandoro said the campaign would soon spread to other towns.

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