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Panties or no panties-It’s Carnival Time!

Honourable Thursdays with Peter Tinashe Kaviya

Bare-chested girls march in the street during the 2015 Harare Carnival Street Party.


SUMMER is here, finally.

The winter bug will bother us no more, the sun will shine again and the streets will explode with the summer vibe, but there is something else in the air; costumes, music and dances.

For 10 days, alcohol will flow in the streets, speakers will sing at every corner and the air will be perfumed with the aroma of burning meat. There will also be scantily dressed and big breasted samba queens, yes, ladies and gentleman, the rich cultural expo we call Harare International Carnival is here.

This year’s edition of the carnival, which is set to run from the 1st to the 10th of September is billed to be one of a kind.

News that South African socialite and dancer, Zodwa Wabantu, is to grace this year’s edition has sent many into a frenzy.

But well, her appearance is now in limbo following yet another classic Mickey Mouse episode, thanks to the usual love-hurt relationship between the ZTA and its parent ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

They say experience is the best teacher and any sane individual would have thought that by now, organisers of the Harare International Carnival have learnt enough to at least stage a controversy free carnival. It seems they have chosen to stick to their DNA; what would the Harare International Carnival be without controversy?

The carnival has been defined by controversy from day one and this year it is the same old song. For starters, the public spat between the Minister of Tourism Dr Walter Mzembi and ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke over carnival naming rights played out in public.

Dr Mzembi publicly condemned Kaseke over Big Time Strategic Group’s sponsorship of the Harare International Carnival and in turn Kaseke dismissed Dr Mzembi’s sentiments as that of a bitter man. Well, let us not dwell on that. The carnival is going ahead.


Enter Anne the rabble-rouser

I am sure by now we all know the Zodwa Wabantu saga pitting the Ministry of Tourism, its parastatal the ZTA and the carnival-goers.

Remember Anne, yes, Anne Nhira. Vimbai Jari from Studio 263. That long forgotten, rather failed actress, well she is back.

In letter written to Anne Nhira and signed by acting Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Hon Patrick Zhuwao, the Government acknowledged Anne Nhira’s letter of complaint and assured her that Zodwa Wabantu may not perform at the carnival.

“I acknowledge your complaint on the above subject matter, Government position is that the artist (Zodwa waBantu) may not participate at the Harare International Carnival. In this regard relevant authorities have been notified,” read part of the letter.

Anne Nhira also took to facebook to announce the ban, “I am ecstatic that the Zimbabwean Government has responded quickly to my letter of objection about ‘Zodwa Wabantu’ coming to Zimbabwe. She will no longer be attending the Zimbabwe National Tourism Carnival event. . .”

Nhira’s letter and subsequent response have attracted many responses from Zimbabweans with many attacking the actress on various social media sites. Prominent journalist and blogger, Robert Mukondiwa also voiced his concerns; “Imagine. What sort of stupidity female on female nonsense is this? Mbuya Nehanda vakaunza nyika yenyu yaipfeka Victoria Secret? We have a woman who cannot afford underwear in Zimbabwe and some jealous PHD wants to make sure someone else who has branded herself cleverly is shut out? Stupid. And while a Government responds quickly to such morons when we have women who cannot afford sanitary wear. When do Governments or failed actresses legislate on what other women wear and what they don’t wear? Bev arikugarira mabhodhoro and it’s her choice wani? This matchstick woman is a special kind of stupid and Government should have better priorities.”

Another journalist Simbarashe Namusi also posted “But kana munhu asingade chinhu anorambira tese…ndeyepi iyi? Zodwa ngauye!”

I could not agree more with Zimbabweans that have voiced their concerns on Nhira’s actions and the rather swift response by the acting minister. Let’s face it, Nhira is not appointed to speak or petition on behalf of Zimbabwe. This is a country of over 14 million people. One wonders why her letter was responded to that quickly. The irony of it is that Anne is based in Zodwas backyard, South Africa.

I have nothing against Anne Nhira, I am not a fan either and in the same measure I am not fond of Zodwa Wabantu and my sentiments are well documented in my earlier article titled The Thrills of Nakedness and Unkempt hair. Feelings and inclinations aside, this Nhira-Zhuwao-Zodwa saga is yet another episode of the ZTA-Tourism Ministry cartoon series.

Anne is a citizen of Zimbabwe and by any measure she is allowed to voice her concerns but she must not, in any given position, imaginative or otherwise, be the voice that speaks on behalf of all Zimbabweans.

So, the argument is about decency. What naked nonsense. It’s a carnival after all and with history of the Samba girls, Bev and Zoey having performed at the carnival, I wonder who is more naked in appearance Zodwa or the Samba Girls.

No one has any proof that Zodwa does not wear panties. When she went to Club Connect a few weeks ago, she was wearing a dress and no one could tell whether she wore panties or not.

I am not a fan of Zodwa but to be or not be, to wear or not to wear – banning Zodwa is unfair, especially based on the feelings of one failed actress.

I believe we have seen more naked women at the carnival than Zodwa. The Ministry might be justified in listening to the citizen’s pleas, but to judge the nation’s feelings based on one out of more than 14 million is wrong – so much for the famed “gross national happiness” motto.

Many Zimbabweans have taken to social media to voice their concerns over the Zodwa case and the verdict seems clear – many want a carnival that is free from Anne’s involvement.

The carnival is a cultural event and expo. We have seen the many cultures at previous carnivals; semi-naked and dressed, and that is what makes it a thriller. Morals or no morals, panties or not, the decision on who performs lies in the hands of the masses of Zimbabwe not one self appointed authority.

Panties on or Panties off, bring it on….ITS CARNIVAL TIME … and dear Anne leave us be!





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