THE police has been exposed for double standards and came under heavy scrutiny after they allegedly forced the 11th hour cancellation of the highly-publicised Best of Both Worlds concert that was to be headlined by the country’s music giants Winky D and Jah Prayzah on Friday at the Harare International Conference Centre.
While live music concerts that attract a physical gatherings and jamborees of over 100 people remain banned since March as part of a raft of measures to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, the lockdown restrictions, however, appear to have been selectively used to grant permission not only for music concerts, but many other gatherings.
This development has been widely viewed as a scam by many creatives as some arts promoters and venue owners believed to have political connections in the ruling Zanu-PF party are allows to hold shows.
In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic were the second wave has seen Zimbabwe recording a massive spike, gospel songbird Janet Manyowa last week successfully hosted the launch of her extended play at the Harare International Conference Centre were some people gathered physically although the show was also live streamed via the pay-per-view (PPV) platform.
The PPV platform enables fans to buy tickets and attend shows online from the comforts of their homes or any location with access to Internet through live streaming and it is usually priced at a fraction of the cost of physical shows.
In a similar fashion, organisers of the Jah Prayzah and Winky D show Kayse Connect were also set to hosts a “limited” physical gathering, while the majority had to pay US$2 or equivalence in local currency to watch via the PPV platform. However, the police is said to have enforced the cancelation of the concert with few hours left and Kayse Connect had to take to social media platforms to publicise the developments.
“We regret to advise that despite our efforts it has become impossible to proceed with the Jah Prayzah and Winky D Best of Both Worlds pay-per-view event as initially scheduled. We will update you on further details soon. We sincerely apologise,” wrote Kayse Connect on social media.
Kayse representative Elton Kurima yesterday told NewsDay Life & Style that the issue was a complicated one such that he had to meet with the law authorities in the company of his lawyers before issuing a comprehensive statement which he had not released by the time of going to print.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment yesterday as his mobile phone was not being answered before go-ing to print.
In a recent interview with this newspaper, a seasoned music promoter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said politics was affect-ing the showbiz industry.
“There is a lot of politics at play on the showbiz scene during this COVID-19 environment. We have seen some artistes who perform despite the warnings as some politically-connected venue owners are receiving “special treatment” from the authorities as their joints have continued to host these unsanctioned shows that even exceed the stipulated numbers,” he said.
“Sadly using their political muscle they connive with promoters or musicians for these unsanctioned gigs put-ting fans’ lives at risk and nothing has been done by the relevant authorities to stop them. This is what has fuelled the staging of more and more concerts where fans are gathering.”
A number of artistes among them, Jah Signal, Mbeu, Killer T, Sulumani Chimbetu, Peter Moyo, Andy Muridzo, Baba Harare, Romeo Gasa and Progress Chipfumo have been staging
concerts at joints like East Point, LA Rouge, Bar Rouge, Big Apple, Margolis Plaza and Electric Quench (formerly Extra-Mile Leisure Spot) under the guise of private functions, attracting huge gatherings.
Some of the joints have been hosting a series of gigs where merrymakers gather weekly, notwithstanding COVID-19 lockdown regulations which emphasise the importance of temperature checks, social distancing and wearing of face masks.