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Minister ‘mum’ on alleged attacks on artists

Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, has been accused of remaining mum regarding the alleged abduction of a Zimdancehall artist over a song deemed to be critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

The musician, Platinum Prince was allegedly abducted and brutally assaulted by a group of unidentified, masked and armed men Sunday, a few hours after he arrived back in Zimbabwe from a South African tour.

Prince whose real name is Ian Makiwa released a track titled “Ndiyo yacho here Mr President,” said to be critical of how the Mnangagwa administration was handling the country’s economy.

Social media was awash with Prince’s pictures where his face was badly bruised, with blood and deep bruises, which led to online users criticising Coventry for remaining silent on the alleged abduction yet her portfolio is responsible for artists.

However, responding on her twitter platform on Tuesday morning, Coventry shot back and said there were several means on how to comment about issues without making noise about it on social media.

“How do you know I haven’t spoken about it? There are various ways of doing things other than simply shouting on social media. I have never supported violence of any kind to anyone, it doesn’t have to be an artist or a youth. Violence is violence no matter who it is against!” she said.

Her reply was in response to award-winning journalist and documentary maker, Hopewell Chinono who posted that Coventry “has never spoken against abductions of youths and artists yet she is the Minister responsible for those portfolios. She is now as equally culpable as all the ZANU-PF politicians who do this!”

He also told Coventry, “I never said that you support violence. Whispering about it and not publicly condemning it makes no sense to us as artists! Why do you fail to publicly condemn it and to visit those artists who would have been victimised to show your solidarity just as you do for sporting events?

In the same Twitter thread, MDC Vice President, Tendai Biti concurred with Chinono and said: “That is the point she misses. Stand up publicly against violence and massive corruption by your government and be counted!”

Biti also dug in and pointed out to the arts minister that she had not spoken out against violence committed by the state.

“But you haven’t,” said the MDC VP and former finance minister, who received support for his statement.

Other users urged Coventry to condemn the attacks and publicly denounce them as she holds public office.

While some were lent their support to the youthful minister and said knowing the system, “she won’t stop anything in as much as those speaking out against violence are not making any change. The culprits are the leaders of this country who are masterminding these activities.”

This is not the first time an artist has been abducted by unknown armed gunmen, of which authorities have downplayed the issue.

In August, a comedian, Samantha Kureya, known by her stage name “Gonyeti,” was also abducted and beaten by masked gunmen in the capital Harare.

She was taken from her home, beaten and forced to drink sewage before being dumped.

On hearing about Gonyeti’s alleged abduction, authorities implied her kidnapping was stage-managed.

Gonyeti through her works has been critical of the police and government in her skits.

As for Platinum Prince, this is not the first time he also courted the anger of the administration.

In 2015, he had a song titled “Ndeipi President” which was also highly critical of the late and former President Robert Mugabe.

 At that time, the artists was reportedly warned that he needed to tone his music down as it was becoming too political.

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