– March 19, 2018
AWARD-winning scriptwriter Amanda Ranganawa has blown the whistle on Mirazvo Productions directors Michael and Shem Zemura, whom she accused of sexually exploiting females during productions.
BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
In leaked WhatsApp audio recordings, the Mutare-based Ranganawa accused the Zemura brothers of attempting to bed her and sexually exploiting other women in the trade before dumping them.
She said she first met Michael through her sister who had told her Mirazvo Productions was “doing great work for ZBC” with productions such as Muchaneta.
In a follow-up interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Ranganawa confirmed the abuse, which she said was prevalent in the local film industry. Ranganawa said she has decided to pursue the legal route.
“I am building a case with my lawyers,” she said, adding that was why she had recorded her account of what had transpired.
Ranganawa said after the shooting of local drama Muchaneta, the Zemuras invited her to celebrate, but she only later realised she had been paired up with Michael.
“As we were going, there was a set up that, already, I had been given to Michael Zemura,” she said, adding that as she sat with him in a car, she had a feeling that she was now owned.
“So when we got to the club and had a good time, there was already that feeling that I was Michael’s girlfriend and yet he was married at the time… On our way back, he started touching my thighs and I was removing his hand.”
Ranganawa said upon arrival at the production house in Mandara, she was allocated a room that was said to belong to a Midlands State University student, who had gone home for the weekend.
Michael, according to Ranganawa, then pitched up in the room when she was just about to sleep and told her they were sleeping together, but she refused because she felt it was improper.
Ranganawa said when she asked another female crew member if she could share her room, the latter declined saying she was sleeping with Shem and instead encouraged Ranganawa to sleep with Michael. She then decided to sleep on the couch in another room, which had four boys sharing two beds.
She described Shem as “a complex human being”. She said he once used the picture of a woman’s private parts on his WhatsApp profile.
Ranganawa — who later discovered it was the picture of an actress in the drama Muzita Rababa whom Shem was dating — said she thought it was disgusting.
“He took a picture of her naked,” she said, adding that the actress’ private parts were only covered by the tip of a Champagne bottle in the picture.
Ranganawa said Shem later dumped the actress and turned on her: “He said I dumped her because of you, because I want you. He kept persisting that we should have a relationship.”
The scriptwriter said she eventually succumbed, but was forced to end the relationship when Shem continued pestering her for sex, after which he blocked her from the film production.
She said Shem kept pictures and WhatsApp messages of the women he had dated and broken up with and used them to claim “sour grapes” whenever any complaints were raised.
Ranganawa said she was keen to expose the abuse young women suffered in the film industry.
Shem declined to comment on the matter and referred all questions to Mirazvo Productions spokesperson, Nick Zemura.
“This is not the best time for me to be talking to the Press. I hope you understand,” he said.
“I have nothing to hide. There are over 20 women who have worked with Mirazvo. There are about 11 students who have lived in the Mirazvo house for over a year. I will give you their phone numbers so that you can call them,” he said.
He then referred this reporter to Zimbabwe International Film Festival executive director, Nigel Munyati, whom he had consulted over the matter because “he is a respected gentleman in the film fraternity”.
Munyati later told this paper that Nick had told him Ranganawa was unhappy because she “feels she is not getting proper recognition for what she did on Kushata Kwemoyo”.