Bryan Adams gig sparks debate over ‘legitimising’ Mugabe

via Bryan Adams gig sparks debate over ‘legitimising’ Mugabe | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A sold out concert for Canadian rock star Bryan Adams in Zimbabwe, has sparked debate about attempts to legitimise the Robert Mugabe regime.

The show is taking place at the Harare International Conference Centre on Friday, the day before Adams performs in South Africa. Tickets, which ranged between $30 and $100, promptly sold out after the concert was announced and buzz about the show has been building.

But the concert is not being welcomed by all, amid concerns about efforts to normalise the situation in Zimbabwe since the highly disputed elections last year that saw Mugabe and ZANU PF resume total control of the country.

“Certainly it is improper considering the timing and possibility that it could send a wrong message about the situation in Zimbabwe following the flawed elections,” said Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with the Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

He told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that if high profile artists like Adams decide to visit Zimbabwe, then they have a responsibility to highlight the challenges the country faces.

“It should not be a trip for the elite which ignores the suffering in the country. There is a need to balance it out and say that if you are in the country then you have an obligation to speak out against human rights abuses and be an advocate for democratic change,” Mavhinga said.

Other critics have compared the situation to that of apartheid South Africa, where an international cultural boycott began in 1961, with musicians and other performers refusing to travel to South Africa while apartheid existed.

In Zimbabwe however, despite the myriad of human rights atrocities committed by the Mugabe regime (including the Gukurahundi genocide, the deadly Operation Hakudzokwi at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, and Murambatsvina), there is no such international action.

Mavhinga said this lack of united international action was a result of the power of ZANU PF’s “propaganda machinery,” which has successfully divided international opinion.

“One must acknowledge that the ZANU PF propaganda machinery has been in overdrive. The flawed elections in July 2013 did not get the condemnation they deserved because countries like South Africa endorsed the process; even SADC was hoodwinked and endorsed the process. So did the African Union. So that gives a difficult context to mount a cultural boycott or any other kind of international campaign,” Mavhinga said.

Other Zimbabweans have meanwhile said that boycotting the country is not the answer.

“Zimbabweans have a real hunger for contact with the outside world,” said Petina Gappah, a Zimbabwean novelist quoted by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

“Isolation has not worked. I think engagement is the way to go.”

An online commentator agreed, saying: “People must learn to separate issues, do they mean Zimbabweans staying in Zimbabwe should stop living, enjoying some of these finer things in life simply becoz Mugabe is still alive and ruling? Leave politics kupolitics, Mugabe is not even going to attend this show, Bryan Adams waita zvako iwe, Zimbabwe is not Robert Mugabe and his cronies they are millions of other Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe…”

Others however said that the international community was risking not only normalising an abnormal situation, but also giving credibility to a flawed election process and illegal regime. Similar comments were also voiced when the United National (UN) tourism body hosted a high level, international conference in Victoria Falls, a month after the disputed elections last July.

Another online commentator said such events “risk romanticising squalor at the expense of progress.”

Mavhinga agreed, warning that there should not be a different human rights standard for Zimbabwe for the sake of ‘engagement’.

“The challenge is that the international community has sought to accommodate ZANU PF in many ways and there’s been a lowering of international standards to accommodate ZANU PF. What we are saying is that universal values like human rights should not have a special yardstick just for Zimbabwe alone,” Mavhinga said.



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    bingo wajakata 8 years ago

    OK now I will pirate Brian Adam music without felling guilty. Its all about money right?

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    nonsense. the so-called human rights opportunists at it again. they seem to think boycotts will de-legitimize Zimbabweans’ votes which they cast by the millions for Zanu PF.

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    kikikikiki Bryan Adams tickets sold out! Who bought the tickets? Obviously Zimbabweans have got the money. Leave the international community alone. Zimbabweans bought those tickets just as they voted for Zanupf on their own. Those abroad are busy showing off that they live abroad because the chose to. Let those Zimba Canadians protest aga

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    kikikikiki Bryan Adams tickets sold out! Who bought the tickets? Obviously Zimbabweans have got the money. Leave the international community alone. Zimbabweans bought those tickets just as they voted for Zanupf on their own. Those abroad are busy showing off that they live abroad because they chose to. Let those Zimbabweans living in Canada protest against Bryan when he goes back. See how many will leave bars or fun to attend the protests. Its us Zimbabweans who must shape our own destiny. If we do nothing but expect “some international community” to bar artists to go to a member of the United Nations then we make ourselves a laughing lot. Its somehow a desperate call. There’s quit a lot of Hararians enjoying life in Zimbabwe. The likes of Cuthbert Dube 230,000 us dollars per month! Thats no joke! so they organise concerts of International artists.

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    Bhora 8 years ago

    This is the hieght of lunacy! Who are these researchers? Is a researcher a title that anyone can get? Who the F cares whether or not Brian Adams comes to Zim? Who cares if he sings in front of a full house at HICC? Is it people’s arguement that Zimbos are not entitled to entertainment because of certain people’s dislike of RG Mugabe? This is silly. And to hear a fellow Zimbabwean utter such nonsense is revolting! I know that it is important for you to push the agenda of the people who pay you, but this is beyond reason… You are also the crowd that called for the English and Australian criket teams to boycot Zimbabwe during the world cup hosted in South Africa and subsequent tours after that. How can a fellow Zimbabwean wish such suffering on the average Zimbabwean? An average Zimbabwean who has probably never even seen the walls of state house?? Your greed astounds me!

    Can wait for the conert!!! I have VIP tickets!!

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    Summer of 69 8 years ago

    Alex Bell, you are an idiot! How can you compare what is happening in Zimbabwe with what happened in Apartheid South Africa?????? ??? Really????? People are taking their hatred of this old man to new levels. If I were a south african, I would be offended by such an inadequate comparison!

    Foolish little man. What exactly do you know about the situation in Zimbabwe??

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    Africanson 8 years ago

    It is the inability to seperate issues of some Zimbabweans that has helped the country to be where it is today. The people who claim to fight for us are the same people who help to bring grief to us. The same people who celebrate and glorify the down fall of our economy, at the end of the day who suffers? If you campaign the demise of the economy who gets jobless? If you deny us intertainment who suffers? If the country accrues a huge debt due to economic melt down who will pay off that debt? If Zanu goes on and borrow trillions of dollars on behalf of zimbabwe with their eyes closed when the opposition comes to power will they not be forced to pay that debt? Lets be positive of our country and promote its improvement. we are not all politicians. Lets cry for democracy while avoiding subjecting ourselves to suffering. Zimbabwe for every one of us. Its not for politicians only. It belongs to MDC, ZANU and everyone. Politicians must come and go and Zimbabwe must go on with its economy. Lets make noise about individuals and political parties and leave our economy intact. ZANU is not the economy. Our economy is not a play ground

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      Summer of 69 8 years ago


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        IMO this is not and should never be an issue. If Adams wants to play his music in Zimbabwe that is not going to change anything. I don’t believe that playing for a crowd in Zimbabwe legitimises anybody. I think that sportsmen must be allowed to compete in their sports without getting involved in or making political statements which I am sure a musician like Adams will not do. I believe that even during these hard Times people deserve entertainment.The sanctions are supposed to be targeted so this should not mean that you punish everybody.

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          Those that do not have the means of paying for a ticket are obviously not going to care about this concert and it is sure to pass unnoticed for them. They will continue to try to survive in the best way they can. Some will sacrifice to see the artist. This is their right. I can only say that I hope Zesa keeps the power on so people can get their monies worth. This is not a political rally so I also agree with the above. I see nothing wrong.

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    chokwadi chinorwadza 8 years ago

    Idiot ‘human rights activist’

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    curiouscynic 8 years ago

    Selihlanya. Shuwa Alex Bell uyu neshamwari dzake vakutopenga chete. So whats next Zimbabweans should be allowed to live their lives outside politics because you hate Robert Mugabe and cant see life outside of politics?? Get real.

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    geoff linnitt 8 years ago

    Do we have the electrical power to stage such an event, these modern rock concerts use enormous amounts of electricity

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Adams is washed up. That is the only reason we are seeing him

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    chikhangalapfula moses shoko 8 years ago

    thats, a great move, i love it, the concert/show, is for the ZIMBABWEANS, all after all, music is another way of getting together.
    we should have more and more of these shows.
    last, but not least, music, is a gift to mankind.
    the lord, says so.

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    Who is Mr Adams? Never heard of him. Zanoids will squander loot on nonsence rubbish

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    Mark Talbot 8 years ago

    Being from Vancouver, I am pretty disappointed in Bryan Adams in the same way I was disappointed in artists that performed in apartheid South Africa.

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    munzwa 8 years ago

    Short memories!! What were your thoughts about the sanctions and sport and cultural restrictions imposed on Ian Smith?

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    mwana wevhu 8 years ago

    Bryan Adams, R Kelly wats this nonsense. Where were they in 2007-2009.Can someone tell me whats attracting them to ZIMBABWE.