In Zimbabwe, the Censorship and Entertainment Control Unit has banned the documentary film ‘President’, saying it “has the potential to incite violence” as the country heads for the 2023 presidential elections.
Produced by Danish filmmaker Camilla Nielsson, the award-winning documentary follows opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on the campaign trail as he challenges the governing Zanu-PF in the 2018 presidential elections.
The elections followed the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe by Emmerson Mnangagwa in late 2017 and were characterised by allegations of violence, brutality by the army and vote-rigging.
Oscar Mugomeri, Deputy Director of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Unit, said the documentary is “likely to be contrary to public order” and incite violence in the country.
“The documentary film President was not approved in terms of section 10(2)(b) of the Censorship and Entertainments Control Act, chapter 10:04, which indicates that the board shall not approve any film or film advertisement which is its opinion ‘is likely to be contrary to public order,” he said.
“The ‘Notice for Rejection’ was made to the whole documentary film. The film has the potential to incite violence as the country prepares for elections in 2023,” Mugomeri added.
According to BMA sources, the Danish filmmakers have filed a legal challenge to the decision in Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court.
Commenting on the ban, the film’s producer said the prohibition was disappointing and limited free speech.
“We will challenge the ban in the Constitutional Court. The Zimbabwean constitution identifies Zimbabwe as a democracy. Consequently, we find this ban to be disappointing. In our view, that decision flies in the face of the democratic tradition of free speech,” Nielsson said.
President first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 and won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award.
The documentary was released across the US on the Public Broadcasting Service award-winning POV documentary series on August 8.