*This article is taken from The Standard.
HARARE: Jah Prayzah seems to be re-inventing himself and one of the major changes he has made about his image is dumping the military gear, it has emerged.
Jah Prayzah’s camp has since roped in prominent designer Thembani Mubochwa, who has been making outfits for him and his band.
They also now refer to his fans as “Team JP” instead of “masoja”.
The Kune Rima hit maker, who is a Zimbabwe National Army cultural ambassador, had become so attached to the military that his fans are now referred to as masoja (soldiers).
However, the image of the army has become a source of polarisation, especially after a brutal crackdown last month where human rights groups say as many as 17 people were killed by soldiers deployed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to quell protests.
Some Zimbabweans on social media are now in the habit of taking potshots at Jah Prayzah, whom they describe as a symbol of oppression, while heaping praises on his rival Winky D.
The changes in Jah Prayzah’s wardrobe has led to a lot of speculation, but his manager Keen Mushapaidze tried to downplay the transformation, saying it was “just seasonal”.
“I don’t think we can say he has dumped military attire,” Mushapaidze said.
“The official position is that he has been wearing different uniforms over the years and it depends on what inspires him at that particular time.
“On whether we will see the band dressing in army uniforms in the future, only time will tell.”
Interestingly, the army recently ordered soldiers to stop appearing in public in uniforms, fearing retribution from civilians in the aftermath of the crackdown.
According to a memorandum that circulated early this month, servicemen were barred from wearing camouflage outside barracks.
“The Zimbabwe National Army has directed that with immediate effect no military uniform will be worn outside cantonment areas. This applies to members commuting to and from places of work, intra- and intercity commuting,” read the notice.
“Take note that after working hours, members are to put on civilian clothes and leave their uniforms in cantonment areas. Some members have been attacked by hostile civilians whilst in uniform.”
Meanwhile, Mushapaidze dismissed reports of a rift between Jah Prayzah and Winky D, saying the two superstars are not competing in any way.
“There is no competition. If you followed Jah Prayzah’s interviews from long back, he has always said that he is a fan of Winky D, but unfortunately there are people with their own agendas who want to create a rift between the two artistes,” he said.
Mushapaidze also defended his repost of Jah Prayzah’s 2017 Coke Studio production and a celebratory message on his verification on Instagram.
“The fact that people are saying there is a competition does not mean either of the camps stops pushing their works the way they always do,” he said, adding that collaboration between the two artistes could not be ruled out.
“The prospects [of collaborating] are there, but sometimes time is a problem because both artistes are busy but when the right time comes, it will happen,” he said.