Tanzanian popular singer, Naseeb Abdul Juma Issack, popularly known by his stage name Diamond Platnumz, is once again surrounded by another controversy that might see him disqualified from the BET Awards scheduled on 27 June.
More than 20, 000 people have signed an online petition seeking to have the star disqualified from the award where he is nominated for Best International Act.
The bongo star is being accused by an NGO, Change Tanzania, of supporting an autocratic rule of the late president John Pombe Magufuli.
“Diamond Platnumz is a world-renowned Tanzanian artist who used his popularity and his talent to whitewash and deodorize the brutal repression of the late dictator John Magufuli and his regime,” Change Tanzania said.
“Diamond is also a close friend and business ally of Paul Makonda, the former governor who openly persecuted and cracked down on LGBTI people. Makonda has also been designated in 2020 by the US State Department for gross violations of human rights including cracking down on freedom of expression and association,” it added.
The organization further stated that “Tanzania has suffered brutal repression and rollback of democracy since 2016 when (late) President Magufuli ascended into power. His regime curtailed democratic freedoms, basic human rights and Tanzanians witnessed never-before-experienced atrocities like enforced disappearances, bodies bound and gagged washing ashore the Indian ocean, mass illegal detention of opposition politicians, critics and businessmen, a crackdown on independent media, intimidation of creative people including musicians, actors and comedians.”
The NGO is also linking the Tanzanian star to another personality, Paul Makonda, who was made the singer’s patron of his music label and media company called Wasafi.
Makonde is accused of being a staunch anti-LGBT in Tanzania.
They claim Makonda has used the Wasafi Festival for publicity and to sanitize his image. Also throughout the increased level of repression when fellow artists were imprisoned and abducted Diamond remained silent.
In 2017, he deliberately released a single called “Acha Nikae Kimya” (Let me remain quiet) as a response to the increasing demand from the public to speak up and condemn the crackdowns. Diamond to date has not condemned or spoken up on any of the atrocities committed.
Change Tanzania said that Diamond Platnumz chose to protect and expand his personal and business interest by praising and using his star power to soften the image of a brutal dictator and his collaborators.
They further accuse him of failing to show basic concern and publicly express any solidarity with his fellow artists like Roma Mkatoliki, Nay wa Mitego and Idris Sultan who suffered at the hand of the ‘dictator’ Magufuli.