Entertainment Theatre

‘Demolishing Democracy’ premieres, set for re-show

KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
DEMOLISHING Democracy, the play commissioned by Yezi-Arts for Natutambe Theatre, made its premiere at the Lusaka Playhouse last week and is now set for a comeback at the same venue next Tuesday.
But looking at the theme of the play, directed by Isaac Kalumba and featuring Mutale Macholwa, Alice Paxina Ngwane, Kethwayo Yezi and Joash Ngóna, the play can look at moving away from the Lusaka Playhouse and going directly to the communities.
Debate around land should be encouraged.
Already, there seems to be contention over Article 269 of the final draft constitution, which relates to vesting of land in the President.
But most of those who have been loudest over this seem not to take particular interest in Demolishing Democracy, a play that focuses on the problem of human settlement leading to illegal settlements, which in many cases also result in demolitions.
The premise of the play, originally written by Zimbabwe’s Tafadzwa Muzondo, is the 2005 campaign called ‘Operation Murambatsvina’, which is translated alternately as Operation Restore Order or Drive Out Trash.
This involved Zimbabwean government forces demolishing homes and businesses in what they claimed to be illegal settlements and black market areas, many of which had been in place for decades.
But although it is the Zimbabwe situation that inspired the play, which has been adapted for the Zambian audience by Sam Kasankha, it remains relevant to the local situation.
There are many contentious issues regarding land in Zambia.
Other than the contention with regard to the vestment of land in the head of state, Parliament and traditional rulers, there is also the dual land tenure system of customary and state land.
In Zambia, land system had since time immemorial been held under customary tenure until the 1960s when freehold and leasehold tenure systems were introduced.
Of the total land mass of the country, customary land is said to make up 94 percent while state land takes the other six percent.
In commissioning the play, Yezi-Arts recognises that the problem of human settlement is a threat to peace in cases of violent resistance to demolitions and evictions.
“It is also a serious governance issue in light of the State having a responsibility to provide shelter and land to its citizens. What of the role of the public servants, the politicians who are at the centre of controversy and remain accused by citizens as the key perpetuators? Notwithstanding the ‘crying out’ victims who, knowingly or not, acquire this land believing that it is their right to land,” the producers said in a statement.

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