US support for HIFA suspicious


LAST week the US Embassy announced through a press release that it will continue partnering the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
The assistance will come in the form of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR).
Not that it is a bad move for the US to offer a ‘helping’ hand, but it highlights the hypocrisy of the US towards its ‘mandate’ in assisting developing countries.
Surprisingly the same Government cut HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis grants in many developing countries, including Zimbabwe.
President Donald Trump’s administration recently presented a lengthy list of ways to cut its budget by US$18 billion.
Organisations such as Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as well as US Agency for International Development (USAID) are the most affected, with USAID suffering a US$1billion budget cut.
Interestingly, PEPFAR, one of HIFA sponsors, was spared.
“We are excited to be part of this year’s edition of HIFA,” said David McGuire, public affairs officer at the US Embassy.
“We see the Festival as an opportunity to learn more about Zimbabwean art and culture as well as sharing American art forms and our commitment to a healthy Zimbabwe.”
The US has a strong relationship with festivals and practices that promotes ways that are not African, such as homosexuality.
According to the US, the practice of homosexuality is a ‘major’ human right that must be ‘respected.’
When former president of the US, Barack Obama, visited Kenya in 2015, he clashed with Uhuru Kenyatta on the issue of gay rights.
Obama strongly wanted Kenya to recognise gay rights, but he was ‘slapped in the face’ by President Kenyatta when he was told there were some things that as Africans ‘we must admit we do not share’.
The US and Scandinavian countries, including Norway and Sweden, have in recent years threatened to curb aid to countries which do not recognise lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in their territories.
For example, in October 2015, reports from Malawi indicated the country accepted a homosexuality deal with Global Fund to unlock donor aid.
Zimbabwe has gained ‘notoriety’ for refusing to embrace and legalise homosexuality.
Thus it is no surprise the US Embassy has expressed support for HIFA while the country is at the forefront of maintaining sanctions imposed under ZDERA.
The First Street Stage which is the baby of the US Embassy will provide free shows for the duration of HIFA.
It will run under theme ‘Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free’.
“The public will receive health information as well as access services from the US Embassy partners supported through the US (PEPFAR),” reads part of the statement from the US Embassy.
This year, HIFA returns to its typical six-day schedule.
It will run from the May 2 to 7 2017.
The year 2016 saw the festival taking a break due to economic hardships that saw most of its sponsors pulling out.
In the same year, organisations such as HIVOS announced their exit despite having sponsored the arts sector for over 10 years.
Since its inception in 1999, the festival has attracted controversy and has been closely linked to the regime change agenda.
In 2011, this publication broke the news that organisers of the festival took some youths to Serbia where they were trained to use social media to effect regime change.
Apart from being a playground for homosexuals, in 2014, HIFA spiritedly attempted to bring Freshly Ground, a South African musical group that released a controversial song ‘Chicken to Change’ to the festival.
Despite ZANU PF thrashing the MDC-T in the 2013 elections, the West still questioned the legitimacy of President Robert Mugabe and groups like Freshly Ground were willing mouthpieces of Western propaganda.
Meanwhile, this year’s edition of HIFA will see Zimbabwe’s legend Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi and Mahube opening the festival with a show titled ‘Let our song be sung’.
“We are excited to host HIFA 2017 and we have lined up interesting artistes this year including Mtukudzi and Mahube who will feature in the opening show,” said Maria Wilson, HIFA executive director.
“HIFA 2017 will run under the theme ‘HIFA 2017: Staging an intervention.”


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