Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mugabe Moves to Silence Dissent

There are disturbing signs that Zimbabwe's despotic ruler, Robert Mugabe, is moving to silence all remaining prominent voices of dissent in that beleaguered country. According to The Guardian, he is moving to close Zimbabwe's two remaining independent newspapers:

Robert Mugabe's government has moved to close Zimbabwe's remaining independent press by stripping newspaper owner Trevor Ncube of his citizenship.

The action against the publisher comes as Mr Mugabe, 82 and president for 26 years, pushes for an extension to his term of office by a further two years. Frustrated by unprecedented resistance from within his Zanu-PF party, he appears to be trying to silence all of his critics.

Yesterday an outspoken opponent, Lovemore Madhuku, accused the police of failing to investigate a fire at his home, which he said was arson. "It is very clear that the government is trying to silence all critical voices, including Trevor Ncube and his newspapers, and me. We are all opposed to Mugabe's attempts to extend his rule to 2010," said Madhuku, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Senior government officials said Mr Ncube, the publisher of two weeklies, the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard, was not entitled to Zimbabwean citizenship because his father was Zambian.

Zimbabwe's strict media laws require newspapers to be owned by Zimbabwean citizens. If the Mugabe government succeeds in withdrawing Mr Ncube's citizenship, it is expected to swiftly close his two papers, which are staunch critics of Mr Mugabe's policies.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Mugabe's thugs tried to murder a leading pro-democracy activist along with his family:

Lovemore Madhuku's home was attacked in the early hours of Sunday morning when it was doused with gasoline and set alight with his family sleeping inside.

The smoke awoke the family who managed to escape and to put out the flames before they got out of hand.

The National Constitutional Assembly alleges this is the third attempt on Mr Madhuku's life in four years.

Madock Chivasa, the spokesman for the NCA which lobbies for political reform, said the attack came as the organisation was mobilising supporters to resist the extension of President Robert Mugabe's term in office by two years.

"The attack on Dr Madhuku should be seen as an attempt to break the resilience of Zimbabweans in their struggle to build a democratic, free and just society based on a people driven democratic constitution," he said in a statement.

I hope that Dr. Madhuku and the people of Zimbabwe succeed in their struggle, but I must admit I'm not optimistic.


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