HIFA under fire for inviting Freshly Ground

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CONTROVESIAL Afro-pop fusion band, Freshly Ground that has made fun of Zimbabwe’s continuing struggle for self-determination is this year’s main act at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
Freshly Ground in 2010 released a song, ‘Chicken to Change’ that questioned the legitimacy of President Robert Mugabe despite the fact that he had been duly elected by the people.
The band, which is comprised of South Africans, Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, released the song portraying President Mugabe as a ‘power hungry’ individual who did not have the mandate of the people despite the majority having voted for him.
The song condemns President Mugabe for his revolutionary stand in defending Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and his refusal to be a puppet of Western imperialists.
The video of the song, directed by ZANews and designed by South Africa’s Cartoonist, Zapiro is not only a caricature of President Mugabe’s life, but shows ZANU PF as a party without Zimbabweans at heart.
However, pundits have criticised HIFA for opening its arms wide open to Freshly Ground, citing that the presence of the group in Zimbabwe was unpalatable to self-respecting Zimbabweans.
A media analyst who refused to be named suggested that HIFA reverse its decision.
“The Government should do something to stop these Western puppets from coming to corrupt our youth,” he said.
“Inviting them is just the same as saying, ‘yes we agree that our President is illegitimate’.
“As Zimbabweans, we should not be blind and tolerate ‘nonsense’ in the name of democracy and freedom of expression.
“Freshly Ground are not entertainers, but dangerous agents aiding the regime change agenda.”
However, HIFA’s media liaison officer, Tafadzwa Simba defended the organisation’s invitation of Freshly Ground.
He insisted that the group was not banned in the country.
“As HIFA we always deal with records and it is not on record that the band was banned and our invite is solely to entertain Zimbabweans,” Simba said.
“We don’t believe inviting Freshly Ground to Zimbabwe will cause any disturbances or damages.”
It is important to note that since its ‘Chicken to Change’ episode in 2010, Freshly Ground has made no effort to return to Zimbabwe, but HIFA has decided to have the band as its main act this year.
However, the invitation comes as no surprise as HIFA has for long been viewed as one of the tools for the regime change agenda.
Last year, HIFA’s controversial founder and artistic director, Manuel Bagorro paved the way for one Gavin Peter amid reports that he (Bagorro) was involved in efforts to effect regime change in the country.
It was his former visit to Serbia, with some Zimbabwean youths, who were allegedly schooled to effect regime change through social networks that put him in the spotlight prior to his stepping down.
It is alleged that the youths that travelled with Bagorro to Serbia were offered courses in strategic communications, mobilisation, advocacy and social media skills, to the tune of US$40 524 sponsored by Michael Straresinic of Casals and Associates, a regime change outfit.
Bagorro, however, bounced back as the festival’s boss this year, the same year marking the return of Freshly Ground.
Could this be just a mere coincident?

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