Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Censorship Intensifies in Zimbabwe

Under its megalomaniacal dictator Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe has become one of the most repressive societies on Earth. Freedom House lists Zimbabwe as being among the "Worst of the Worst" in terms of state oppression of human rights, while Reporters Sans Frontieres describes Mugabe as a "Predator of Press Freedom". This is why it is especially disturbing to read that, according to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Mugabe regime is actually intensifying its campaign against independent media:

President Robert Mugabe's media control unit, the Media and Information Commission, MIC, has begun a new onslaught on journalists in Zimbabwe, a country dubbed as one of the worst countries in which to work as a journalist.

The move by top Mugabe loyalists is aimed at derailing efforts by the independent Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, MAZ, to establish a voluntary council to regulate the media industry.

Sources within the ministry of information told IWPR that MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso is working hand-in-glove with the ministry's top civil servant, George Charamba, to have the three organisations comprising the membership of MAZ subjected to an official investigation and then stopped from operating, just as many independent papers and broadcasting groups have been destroyed over the years by the president and his loyalists.

Mahoso diligently administers the Orwellian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, AIPPA, which dictates that domestic and foreign journalists who work without Mahoso's and Mugabe's permission can be imprisoned. Among papers forced to close was the Daily News, the country's most popular and only independent daily, read by more than a million of the 11.5 million population. Under AIPPA and other draconian laws, every foreign correspondent and many Zimbabwean journalists have been forced out of the country.

To secure the legal right to publish or work as a journalist, applications have to be made to Mahoso, a former head of the school of journalism at Harare Polytechnic, known among the media as Mugabe's hatchet man.

Another IWPR article provides some historical background on why journalists and others are right to be afraid of Mugabe and his regime:

Over the years, Mugabe's language has become ever more coarse and callous. In 1998, the then editor of the weekly Standard newspaper, the late Mark Chavunduka, and his chief reporter Ray Choto reported an alleged coup attempt within the armed forces. They were arrested by police who handed them to the army, whose interrogators tortured the men so severely that they had subsequently to be flown to Britain for several months of treatment in a London clinic under the protection of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Asked for his reaction to the torture of the journalists, his fellow citizens, Mugabe told Voice of America radio, "The army had been provoked. I will not condemn my army for having done that. They can do worse things than that."

(Emphasis added-DD)


Anonymous professor ed said...

Let us hope that some day, in the not to distant future, this ruthless dictator, and his compatriots, will go the way of our former friend of civilized democracy in Africa Idi Amin.

3:23 PM  

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