Q&A with Zabalaza Mchunu

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Zabalaza Mchunu is a Wits alumnus and marketing manager at VOW FM. A self-described God-fearing person, he is known for his interests in public speaking, acting and comedy. Zabalaza is also known as ‘Date my Family’ after he appeared on the DSTV dating show of the same name. His choice of a ‘Sandton Girl’ whose family were better cooks left Twitter views unhappy with his decision, a choice Zabalaza also regrets.

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Play makes no ‘secret’ to political foibles

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A new play by Witsies, Secret ballot, is an urban representation of contemporary South African politics. This politically driven play pokes fun at the shortcomings of our modern parliamentarians and issues we can all readily identify with.

“The play speaks urgently to the time,” said writer and director Jefferson Tshabalala.

From our beloved president Jacob Zuma to our blessed charismatic pastors, the story references contemporary figures of authority and ridicules the abundance of power and money and how that turns to greed when there is no accountability. It satirises recent social spectacles like the Braamfontein KFC street chicken saga and the #AskMmusi social media campaign.

“That is probably why we don’t have sponsorship from any institution,” cast member Tony Miyambo said. The cast and crew decided to not charge anything for the show and opted to let people donate however much they wanted.

This contemporary piece of protest theatre explores the greedy culture of tenderpreneurs. Politically connected individuals who got rich through the government tendering system. The play comically exploits how political clout is used to gain personal ‘sugar’ or riches as the play suggests.

“The production was largely informed by the political climate under which it was first written,” said Tshabalala, who wrote the play during the post -election period in 2014.

Tshabalala wrote speeches for the play and not normal dialogue to exaggerate how parliamentarians talk at rallies or even in parliament. “By observing social media and what’s on the news, the actors add the colour and texture over time in rehearsals to stay current,” said Miyambo.

“We wanted to move the personal dialogue among politicians to the public domain,” said Tshabalala.

Starring Zabalaza Mchunu, Tsietsi Morobi, Michael Mazibuko, Lereko Mfono and Tony Miyambo as the members of the brotherhood.  This group of young, black whiskey sipping white collar crooks wear dark sunglasses, expensive suites and even pricier shoes. The young and uneducated people run the show with grassroots political training which they have received from the older generation of cadres.

True to the political theatre genre, the play uses physical humour to speak to topical issues in an uncanny way. “As young theatre practitioners who take their craft seriously, we wanted to use pastiche to address young people who tend to switch off when debate about serious issues arise,” said Miyambo.

First staged in 2014, Secret Ballot highlights the bubbling under state of emergency that South Africa is in. The play tells the story of how large social agendas have grown into personalised crimes of entitlement.

“No run has been the same because the South African landscape constantly changes,” said Miyambo.

Hilarious and witty, the production opens discussion on the public issues, allowing for audiences to laugh at themselves. This political farce reflects society to back to itself, a must see for anyone alarmed by the quietly bubbling under frustration of the youth about our corrupt state of affairs.

The cast and crew are planning on taking their production on the road but have not yet firm plans due to a lack of funding. They will be advertising shows on their Facebook page KiriPinkNob.