Bryan Adams gig sparks debate over ‘legitimising’ Mugabe

Canadian rock star Bryan Adams

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
22 January 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.

See video Bryan Adams – Summer of 69

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6 Responsesto “Bryan Adams gig sparks debate over ‘legitimising’ Mugabe”

  1. vimbai-naye chatitai says:

    Morgan Tsvangirai was a Mugabe supporter during the Ghukurahundi, I’ll bet you a dead Zim-dollar, Dewa Mavhinga was also a Mugabe supporter during the Ghukurahundi.

    This is just a concert. Bryan Adams is just an entertainer. The MDC’s failures shouldn’t be everybody’s problem.

  2. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Canadian rock star Bryan Adams is a musician and above all a businessman who goes where money is. He is not a saint or a philanthropist who is going to Zimbabwe just to please its music enthusiasts but to play his famous guitar to get money. Politics has never been in his blood but to entertain his music enthusiasts/fans across the world is what he knows best. This is a really tired story by Alex Bells which is a clear sign of her desperation to get news that is worthwhile and is typical of all rhodies.

  3. Tanonoka Joseph Whande says:

    Rock star businessman my foot! He is a leach. A blood sucker like Mugabe.
    Stay away fool.
    We are under duress and don’t need entertainment except our own…at least the money stays here.
    We have unresolved issues in the country. Serious issues that need to be taken care of. We do not need to be entertained by foreigners who ask for money from us that their own governments are donating to our repressive governments.
    As an aged rock star, Adams must go begging elsewhere and not use the little left of his fame to give legitimacy to an abominable regime.
    While his fellow professionals in the music industry are busy raising awareness and funds to situations such as exist in Zimbabwe, Brian Adams is stealing from those who need his help.
    The fool is running away from runaway cold weather in Canada.
    His stupidity, vileness and greed actually cuts like a knife.
    Regrettably, I am stark with his LPs from the early 80s.
    It is okay to keep mementos of the world’s biggest fools and traitors but I am burning them and will invite the media to witness!

  4. Tanonoka Joseph Whande says:

    Rock star businessman my foot! He is a leach. A blood sucker like Mugabe.
    Stay away fool.
    We are under duress and don’t need entertainment except our own…at least the money stays here.
    We have unresolved issues in the country. Serious issues that need to be taken care of. We do not need to be entertained by foreigners who ask for money from us that their own governments are donating to our repressive governments.
    As an aged rock star, Adams must go begging elsewhere and not use the little left of his fame to give legitimacy to an abominable regime.
    While his fellow professionals in the music industry are busy raising awareness and funds to situations such as exist in Zimbabwe, Brian Adams is stealing from those who need his help.
    The fool is running away from runaway cold weather in Canada.
    His stupidity, vileness and greed actually cuts like a knife.
    Regrettably, I am stark with his LPs from the early 80s.
    It is okay to keep mementos of the world’s biggest fools and traitors but I am burning them and will invite the media to witness!

    • Chimbwido Warvet says:

      You are a joke of gigantic and staggering proportions Takanonoka Whande, an idiot who is not well read and has no appreciation of the current world economic trends. You call this musician a thief, a renowned rock star who has built his fame to his music fans across the globe who go where he gigs willingly and pay their money without forcing any of his music enthusiasts.

      For you information, the real thieves are the Wall Street bankers and multinational corporations that have caused an economic catastrophe across the globe. These are the thieves you should talk about who are now relocating the business concerns to the Far East when they have been bailed out by us the taxpayers thus leaving millions of people in the western world, Zimbabwe included without jobs. Brian Adams was not involved in the collapse of the world economy but a victim of it.

      The entire world is up in arms with the thieves at Wall Street while you apportion blame to the leadership of Zimbabwe that did not contribute to the economic meltdown of the world. I have often told you that you only went to the Harare Polytechnic to read journalism in the early 80s but you have not improved your investigative journalism. You are crippled in carrying out your own research to know the global economic trends and still raw in journalism 34 years since you became a journalist, a poor journalist who does not even know the history of his own country and why Zimbabwe is having political and economic problems. My advice is for this journalist with a bald head to go back to college to improve his skills and in the process read about the political history of Zimbabwe. It is a shame that you write this nonsense.

    • THE BLACK ARISTOCRAT says:

      “Legitimising” – Don’t worry, there is no chance of that happening – the tyrant Mugabe will be carried out of State House in a pine overcoat before the mighty USA, EU and most of the rest of the civilised world ever gives him an inch of legitimacy – they firmly believe that his utterly shameless lack of remorse for carrying out an appallingly long list of horrific crimes against the Zimbabwean people over decades is totally unforgivable, and that he and his murderous regime should be permanently ostracised and starved of the oxygen of publicity.

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