Friday, October 13, 2006

Censorship and Repression in Zimbabwe

Frontpage Magazine has an enlightening interview with exiled Zimbabwean newspaper editor Geoffrey Nyarota. Mr. Nyarota provides a chilling look at the sufferings of his homeland under the despotic rule of Robert Mugabe. In particular, he discusses the regime's brutal campaign against free expression:

After independence, it was one of Mugabe’s dreams to establish a doctrinaire socialist one-party state in Zimbabwe. He embarked on a campaign to suppress opposition political parties. One of the strategies of his campaign was to establish total control over mainstream media. During the struggle for independence, radio and television were already under government control. Soon after independence, the government extended that control to encompass the print press. The state secured control over the country’s largest newspaper publishing company, Zimbabwe Newspapers, publishers of a string of daily and weekly papers. I worked for this company in the early years of independence, being dismissed in 1988 from the editorship of The Chronicle, one the government’s two daily newspapers. This followed my exposure of widespread corruption involving cabinet ministers and other government officials.

The government reacted to the so-called Willowgate Scandal by tightening controls over the media. When we launched The Daily News in 1999, the government’s reaction was violent. Our printing press was destroyed in a bomb explosion. Journalists were routinely harassed and arrested on very spurious charges. Finally the paper was banned. As of now, the government enjoys a monopoly of control over the mass media again. Press freedom has been severely restricted. Existing independent newspapers are forced to exercise self-censorship in order to survive. In the absence of genuine press freedom other freedoms are curtailed.

Fighting Zimbabwe’s Monster


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