Freshlyground denied entry into Zim

freshly-groundPeter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
SOUTH African musical group Freshlyground was grounded at the Harare International Airport yesterday evening after being denied entry into Zimbabwe on account of not having visas and temporary employment permits allowing them to work in Zimbabwe. The controversial South African Afro-fusion group was billed to perform at the closing ceremony of the Harare International Festival of the Arts last night before it emerged that the organisers had advertised the show and sold tickets before acquiring the requisite papers required for the act to proceed.

Regional Immigration Officer Mr Francis Mabika confirmed that the seven-member outfit was denied entry on arrival at the Harare International Airport yesterday late afternoon.

“The group was sent back because they did not have a valid work permit. Their permit had not yet been processed so they could not be allowed to enter the country,” Mr Mabika said.

He said the group’s work permit application came from Hifa and it was responded to in less than 24 hours and they got their response.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi yesterday said if anyone comes to any country to work, they should have a permit and failure will result in denial of entry.
“Those are the laws of the country. Do you want us to bend the laws of the country just to suit a South African group? The officials who refused them entry were just implementing the laws of the country,” Minister Mohadi said.

Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga said what happened was unfortunate, but the ministry could have assisted if Hifa had approached them in advance not on the 11th hour.

“It’s unfortunate that the information came to us as a ministry just yesterday afternoon that’s when Maria called talking about the challenges facing Freshlyground,” Deputy Minister Kanengoni-Malinga said.
She was referring to the Hifa executive director Maria Wilson.

Deputy Minister Kanengoni-Malinga said the immigration officials told her that they had already spoken to Maria days before and alerted her the fact that the group might not be able to enter the country.

However, Hifa spokesperson Tafadzwa Simba, claimed the organisation followed all procedures and obtained clearance from the Board of Censors, National Arts Council, and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
Simba said Hifa paid all requisite Zimra fees in full and was not aware of the reason for the denial of entry.

“Hifa is saddened by the development, but respects the usual professional communication we receive from official bodies and look forward to receiving such,” Simba said.

He said Freshlyground was chosen on the grounds of their artistic credentials.
“They are a top African group as can be seen by their various awards and in their being chosen to represent Africa in the Soccer World Cup theme song for 2010,” he said.

In 2010 the group released the song “Chicken to Change” with the video denigrating President Mugabe as a dictatorial caricature and urging him to “chinja” in an apparent reference to the opposition MDC-T slogan.

A source in the Hifa organising committee said concerns had been raised about the suitability of inviting Freshlyground given the controversy generated by their political advert-cum-song but it appeared some in the Hifa organising committee wanted a win-win situation for the event all at the expense of Government.

Manuel Bagoro, the festival’s media savvy artistic director, is known to court controversy and it is suspected that he may have chosen Freshlyground and bungled the papers knowing full well that any fallout would blamed on Government as happened a few years ago.

‘’If Freshlyground was denied entry, as happened, Hifa would get huge press from sections of the local, South African and international media who would immediately link the denial to the ‘Chicken for change’ song; and if Freshlyground was allowed in, and performed the song and caused a ruckus in the audience, it would still be good press,’’ said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

This year’s edition of Hifa has already courted controversy with a mischievous portrayal of the hanging of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi by the settler regime which is attributed to two drunk white men.

The play also parodies the sexuality of the revolutionary icons.
Freshlyground join a long list of international artistes that have been barred from entering several countries around the world for different reasons.

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  • @thenextowne

    “too chicken to change,” kutoshinga kugadzira diss track for my president. Now that he has replied to you are free to come! #twimbos

  • mugopower

    This just shows how our country lacks tolerance of criticism. It keeps, paints a picture where the nation has no freedom of expression. By denying them entry you have given credence to “chicken song” or that we are a pariah state. Just see how people are freely campaigning in South Africa closest neighbour. They denigrate their president but are not arrested or threatened. That’s what makes us Zimbabweans feel free to discuss sensitive issues only when we are outside of Zimbabwe. Can our nation wake up and not focus on petty issues? What where we going lose if they performed? Actually we would have gained because they would seen how free Zim is.

    • Makusakatara


      The issue, my friend, is not the demonisation of President R.G. MUGABE by this immature group some time back but that they and the organisers did not follow procedure in applying for visas for the foolish group. The bodies that were mentioned in the article do not issue visas, ONLY the Immigration Department does.

      Now, they (the group) and organisers did not bother to apply for the requisite work visas. Not only that, the official from Immigration called the organisers to alert them – well before this – to this possibility (of visa denial if there is no work visa/PERMIT) but they both ignored the warning. Who then should be blamed?? It is not those who did not see IMMIGRATION as important in bringing foreigners into the country?

      What people, who mention anything to do with so-called “chicken song”, are doing is just trying to link what is not linkable. In any case if these people did as is being alleged, then it was good that they were denied entry into our country. We SHALL NEVER tolerate those that want to demonise us for no apparent reason.

      To us they are like Al-Qaeda to America or Britain. Would America allow an Al-Qaeda member to visit the country “so that they see how free (America) is?” NEVER SHALL THAT EVER HAPPEN and so we are not an exception. Those who are not in agreement with us should not come to OR should stay our of our country.

      We have been consistent on this issue and this is why some time back, COSATU was denied entry into our country because they were or maybe are still UNDESIRABLE ELEMENTS.

      • infairness

        I agree save that, I believe it is terrorism by some malcontented organizer at HIFA..

    • sense

      Just because other people down south are idiotic and they lack moral values, it does’t follow that we must allow that nonsense. Zim can not be free if we let gays and idiots grace our national events, that is madness. Just go down south and get your throat slashed in the name of freedom.

      • jojo

        Who are you to judge other people ?

    • tafamutekwe

      I concur with you Mugopower. Zimbabwe’s image is in tatters and a window was created for the country by HIFA to re-brand and market itself to outsiders. Instead of taking full advantage of this we showcase to the world that we are are an intolerant nation bent on banning those who disagree with our worldview from entering our “sacred” boarders.Will this government ever learn from its bag-full of mistakes?

      • bujume

        what is there to rebrand with HIFA? Such silly reasoning.

        • spiralx

          The ruling regime has always used PR (smoke and mirrors) to try and make itself look presentable on the international stage.

          • infairness

            The only support they seem to have buyu the comments are from malcontents and troublemakers which says it all.
            We siuppotrt the law and need the police to [protect us from this attempt to ruin HIFA simply for anti government propaganda.

          • Ssb Candidates

            You never wrote back about Agents Of SHIELD.

    • Mangwende we Chinhoyi

      I disagree with you mugopower even in South Africa, there wasn’t silence when their president was denigrated by the so called artists. Zimbabwe is no pushover my friend. We cannot be trodden upon simply for the reason of kufadza the world with the so called freedom of expression. Kana mwana akatuka baba vake zvakasimba kusanganisa nezvinonyadzisa, isu muno munyika medu, hatingotarisi tichida kunzwisisa kuti tigonzi we tolerate freedom of expression. The child has to receive some form of punitive guidance. I personally feel that freedom of expression has limits like anything else in this current world. Remember our president always talks of “HUNHU” in an African context and that also helps to differentiate and identify us in this world.

    • Candid

      Iwe, go down south and sing nonsense about President Zuma. You will not come back alive. Its one thing for a local to say what they want in their country. But for a bunch of drug addicts to masquerade as expects on our situation is unacceptable.

    • infairness

      This is not about criticism its about unwarranted derogatory remarks about our President by foreigners in our country. We respect South Africa and would not do this or be allowed to do this in South Africa, we need the same consideration here!
      What is missing is what the authorities intend to do to the HIFA organizers who obcviously planned this to disrupt peace – an act of terrorism1

  • chiweshe

    As of the Nehanda play, am from the clan of Charwe yaive homwe yanehanda and we will speak when time is right but its a shame of those that always want to partner with vana va Pfumojena, Vatengesi, Zimbwasungata saka mapfupa a charwe achamuka.

  • Zims

    What a joke this country is. The Govt was screaming because Grace was not allowed to go to the summit on Africa and do her shopping, and now they ban a music group from entering. When will these people grow up and start acting like adults for gods sake.

    • Makusakatara


      Why don’t you tell Freshly Ground to scream because they have been denied entry into Zimbabwe and in the process, PLEASE ask them to produce or show you the work permit they got from Immigration Department.

      When Mai Grace Mugabe was denied an entry visa to Brussels, we did not even attempt to go there (not to do shopping – because we can shop anywhere in the world – but to attend a legitimate summit). We respect other people’s laws!!

      Why did your musical group proceed to travel to this country knowing too well that they did not have a work permit to perform at the HIFA function? Vakanzwa butter; toko waro!!! We will NEVER TOLERATE indiscipline and lawlessness whether by our own people or visitors to this country.

      • Economic Police

        “we did not even attempt to go there” iwewe nani?

        • Makusakatara


          Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans (that includes I) represented by President R.G. MUGABE are the “WE” I am talking about. If President Mugabe had gone to Brussels then I and Zimbabwe would have gone, hence, I can safely say “WE” because I am a Zimbabwean who is represented by my President.

  • chiweshe


    • s shumba

      Why r you inviting white tourists from Europe & USA to Zim

      • Makusakatara


        Zimbabwe has never and shall never invite white tourists. We are interested in tourists and not white tourists. So, do not fool yourself that we want them in Zimbabwe at the expense of following our laws.

        Any foreigner – black white, khakhi, pink, yellow, blue, or what have you – who fails to abide by the laws of this country shall immediately be deported from this country back to thier country.

  • Judas Iscariot

    When Koffi Olomide came to play at Bona,s wedding i don,t remember him being asked for a work permit,this was nothing but politics as usual by the regime.

    • Khalifa

      Koffi Olomide was not coming for a commercial show my friend, and he was coming in at the invitation of His Excellency to play at his daughters wedding. That was not a commercial business venture…if he was paid then it was through other means not a contract of business performance… The case is different. Fleshlyground were penciled in to play at the closing concert of a commercial business venture, and they DEFINITELY has a contract of performance just like what happens to any other foreigner coming to get employment here. Why should they be exempt? Are they angels? Whatever you can say the organizers of the event bungled too bad here and they are bearing the consequences. Even if the government had a bone to chew with the this group then it is the organisors who actually made it very easy through their misguided handling of issues… Noone is above the law my friend!!!!

    • Makusakatara


      Koffi Olomide was not denied entry into the country because his work permit was there to present to Immigration on arrival at the Harare International Airport. The organizers had done their homework well by applying for this from the Immigration Department in advance. It was sooth sailing for Koffi but if you or anyone else for that matter chooses to test the Zimbabwean waters, you will have your leg amputated by a crocodile.

    • mr lee

      How do you know that proper procedures were not followed you are happy when your elders are insulted in the name of freedom of exppresion i agree with candid enda ikoko unovaona uchituka Zuma

    • infairness

      you are an idiot, every foreigner needs a visa, and terrorist obviously don’t get one.
      You may not compare anyone to group of terrorists posing as malcontents.

  • Public Protector

    The truth here is these guys were denied entry because of the chinja song. We are no children mhani. Inga you boast that Zim has the most educated people. Tinofungawo.

  • Johnso wekuMbare

    There is nothing special about this group and I applaud those who denied them entry simply because they were following the rules of the land.Zvekuti ndeve kusouth hazvina kana basa kana vasinakutevedzera zvaidiwa no entry [email protected] would you allow someone who is busy denigrating you entrance into your home ?

  • alfredo

    This is why musicians should just be politically neutral.

  • Udzero

    There are Thousands of Afro-pop/jazz groups from which they could have chosen to come perform. Of all groups, they chose this controversial one. That’s taking the public & government for granted.

    Besides, these worked in cahoots with Shakira to sample an African song and blatantly use it for 2010 WC song without consent or even inviting the original artists of the song to share the limelight with them.
    So much for a “great” African pop group short changing another African group.

  • Sibangani Masuku

    We are losing focus again:ZIM-ASSET, Corruption ,fat salaries for Parastatal CHEFS. The focus on these issues can bring food onto a table in Makpkoba or Mbare please!Forget these minor issues:Freshly Ground, Tsvangiari ,Biti ,EU ,USA etc

    • Makusakatara


      These issues are not minor; they are very important in as far as this country is concerned. The country cannot let people come into our country at will and without requisite papers. That is why we have DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS. Those departments that implement ZimASSET are doing what they are supposed to do. The role of the Immigration Department in ZimASSET is to ensure that stupid, confused, criminal and immature groups like Freshly Ground are denied entry into our country. PERIOD!!!

      • mhofu

        who really are u dude….unenge unoswera paherald commenting on every comment …unenge unenguva yekutambisa…or s t u paid to do tht????

  • Keystone

    Thats why we need the Mdc in whatever form to lead us to the promised land.
    Honestly a 34year old gvt that ‘won a landslide’ going hysterical over criticism from a rock band whose genre is followed by less than 5% of the pop.
    If they have an agenda, So what about agendas?
    Doesnt democracy support the change agendas?
    Who on earth does operate without an agendas?
    You want to be showered with praises everyday that promote corruption, unproductivity and looting as if you are divine.
    Nxa ‘emperors new clothes.’
    This is shameful to the country

    • Makusakatara


      Even if they had a zero percent following we will still deny them entry because our action is not based on numbers but on PRINCIPLE. The PRINCIPLE is that when a foreigner is scheduled to work in our country – even for a minute – they have to obtain a work permit in advance to their coming.

      Anything you can say or give as reason(s) for denial is just what it is – hogwash. The Immigration Department spokesperson clearly stated that he reminded the organisers – well in advance – to apply for a temporary work permit for these stupid, idiotic, immature, and undisciplined malcontents but they (organisers) did not take hid.

      Who then should be blamed? Is it not those who failed in their duty or is it responsibility? As a country we cannot allow anyone to just do as they like or wish – be they Zimbabweans or foreigners. Zimbabwe is a country of law abiding people who respect the rule of law and not the rule by law.

      • Zimba

        I believe Freshlyground is not the only International act that was set to perform, pana vese avo ma permits ndiwo asina kuita .The highly organized HIFA team i don’t believe they failed to apply for a visa for Freshlyground .Zanu government did not want them in the country to perform chicken to change to 5000 people PERIOD . Shame on u Zanu Pf

        • Makusakatara


          NO, you are wrong because the Immigration Department spokesperson clearly stated that he personally phoned the HIFA organisers to alert them of the need to apply for a work permit for the group but they did not follow the advice.

          Not only that, the Deputy Minister of Sports was ONLY contacted “at the 11th hour” and I sure you know what that means.

          In addition and for your own information, nobody would have feared Freshly Ground because they do not vote in this country and the 5000 they were going to sing to are not, repeat are NOT the 13 million Zimbabweans that matter to us.

          Moreover, elections are only in 2018 – some four years to come and by that time, NO ONE would still remember that there was ever a group called Freshly Ground that visited and sang at Hifa.

        • Sifiso Xolile Ndlovu Zgwanyanw

          5000 people at a show for the rich Zimbabweans, mostly whites who only enter the cbd once a year for hifa is hardly representative of the 13 million Zimbabweans who are mostly in the rural areas. That is 0.000384615384615% of the population of Zimbabwe, unless you are implying that the concerns of this small section of our vast society trumps those of the 99.999615384615385%? Zpf wins by majority votes so it is obvious that a zpf government does not care much to bend the constitution of Zimbabwe for the purpose of pleasing a group comprising 0.000384615384615% of the population. Perhaps a government of mdc will bend the constitution for the elites to be entertained for $25 a piece.

    • tabnand

      how many zimbos have been deported coz of the lack of permits. why legally allow the very same thing south africa is denying. if they had been allowed to enter and people got wind of it it will be a story of how corrupt the government is. as for democracy there is respect of law (which obviously states no one is above the law) which clearly the group forgot to take into consideration.

  • Lightson

    Why do they want to insult us? Who asked them to make our business their business? They were charging 25$ per ticket!!! Even Micheal Jackdon the worlds greatest performer never charged that amount!!! We are not stupid, go maje your money elsewhere! Hifa should be severely reprimanded and replaced with the carnival!we might not be as advanced at the rest of the wield but looking at the rest of Africa and the west Zim is a better place to be,no bombings,no crime like Sa,no extremists no terrorists etc!!!!well done they got what they deserved go make your 25$ per ticket elsewhere!

  • MuZimbo

    Shame on you. Nxaaa. Kuto sapota ngochani ndinounzwa ne Hifa. Ban HIFA from now on.Freshly Ground is nothing. there should get life ban from Zimbabwe.

  • MunhuMutema

    How many artistes are barred from entering the UK, USA and other western countries on a daily basis. To make it an issue that Freshly Ground has been denied entry into Zimbabwe is myopic. If Hifa applied in time to get their visa and it was not approved why did they go on to sell the tickets. We are not gullible as Zimbabwe. Respect the laws of the land. Respect our leaders.

    • s shumba

      Who is making it an issue?…. You?

      • Makusakatara


        Actually, it is you!!

  • bz

    So this is why they didn’t want Audius Mtawarira to perform? They should apologize to him.

    • twas

      why should we bother this group yet they have no proper set of traveling documents, why should allow them entering into the country without required document thats being corrupt to allowed anyone without proper document i can say that denial is accepted

      • jojo

        Ah!! Kuchikoro bambo, what kind of English is that???

  • mdara

    Kofi Olomide kumuchato waBona aive ne work permit here?

  • matimba

    The reason why you blocked FreshlyGround is the same reason you’re not allowed in Europe. Spare us the sanctions sh*t!!!!

  • sharon

    inyaya ye’chicken to change’ iyi jus imagine how many cartoons and songs that have been sang and done on Zuma just shows what zimbabwe is made of.Ukanzwa Trevor noah achicartoon Zuma unoti dai kurikuzimbabwe akafira mujeri kunzi undermining the president haa zimbabwe maone chaiwo

    • Makusakatara


      When Zuma was cartooned with his thing outside and taking a shower(after sex with an HIV positive woman), there was hullabaloo and a very serious outcry in that country but particularly from the ANC. That cartoon was IMMEDIATELY removed, not only where it was being exhibited but it was also taken down from the net.

  • Zimbo 4 Life

    Iyi manje ndoinonzi memory yenzou and it just goes to show you kuti H.E…..RAKAIIIIIIIIIIPA!!!

  • Unbanked

    Well, I did not know of this song until only today. The only thing that has done is increase publicity to the piece, period. Guess I am getting old or been working too hard – don’t know how I missed this one.

  • tabnand

    smart move zim start small and go big. baby steps to recognition of law now expand the base internally

  • chacha

    go across Limpopo and see how Trevor Noah jokes and makes fun of Zuma but no repercusions

    • me

      but not about other presidents

  • Fat Mo’s Barnyard Boys

    Could the immigration department enlighten us if Kofi Olomide had a work permit when he played at Bona’s wedding.

  • infairness

    This not about tolerance of criticism its about foreigners having a go at our President.
    I cannot think of any country in the West that would tolerate such irresponsible behavior.
    Itv is correct that they were refused entry and the organizers of HIFA should be brought to task for inviting them which was clearly to create public unrest by promoting anti government propaganda – an act of terrorism!.