Diplomats decry banning of Zim constitution doccie

Harare - Diplomats in Zimbabwe on Wednesday expressed their disappointment over reports that the southern African country's censorship board had banned a documentary exploring the fraught constitution-making process.

Denmark's acting head of mission Signe Ahlberg tweeted: "Very sad to hear this news. Great documentary about a very important process for Zim."

A report in the privately-owned NewsDay this week said that the censorship board had denied permission to a film company to distribute the documentary Democrats inside Zimbabwe.

Filmed over a three-year period, Danish director Camilla Nielsson's documentary explores the drawn-out and often fractious negotiations between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and its opposition partners in the 2009-2013 coalition government, as they tried to reach a consensus on the drafting of a new charter. 

The constitution was adopted at a countrywide referendum in March 2013.

Democrats focuses particularly on two key characters: Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change and Paul Mangwana of Zanu-PF.

Philippe van Damme, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe tweeted: "Censorship always regrettable decision indeed: excellent documentary provoking debate."

Press watchdog Misa-Zimbabwe said in a statement that the banning of the documentary "simply exposes the [Zimbabwe] authorities' paranoia of free flowing information and their fixation with entrenching uncritical discourse in the public domain".

Last year, the censors demanded an edit of the film adaptation of EL James' Fifty Shades of Grey, arguing that there were scenes that were "too indecent" to be shown to the general public. It is not clear if the board's chairperson Heyi Malaba, believed to be around 95 years of age, is still in office - though he was last year.

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