Friday, May 06, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe threatens ban on western journalists

COMMENT - The West can't ban Zimbabwean journalists and then complain about press freedom in Zimbabwe, or anywhere else. And why do they call the Zimbabwean government's press secretary 'President Robert Mugabe's press secretary'? I guess they call him President Robert Mugabe now, which is a step up from 'Mugabe'. Anyway...

Zimbabwe threatens ban on western journalists
by Deutsche Presse-Agentur
05/05/2011 00:00:00

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's press secretary has threatened to reinstate a ban on Western journalists visiting Zimbabwe. The threat was "retaliation" for Zimbabwean state media journalists being refused entry to Europe, the official Herald newspaper reported.

"(Zimbabwean) journalists are being targeted to stop them from the lawful gathering of news outside Zimbabwe," George Charamba was quoted as saying. "This is seriously an attack on the media."

His comments came after Reuben Barwe, chief correspondent of the country's only television network, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), was refused entry to Italy to accompany Mugabe to the Vatican for the beatification of former pope John Paul II.

A power-sharing agreement reached between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009 saw the relaxation of draconian media controls.

Three independent newspapers have been allowed to go to press and the ban on foreign journalists was almost totally lifted. But journalists have continued to be arrested on charges of undermining Mugabe's authority, while Mugabe's Zanu PF party has staunchly refused to sanction new radio and television stations.

Barwe is one of six state media journalists, along with nearly 200 other members of Mugabe's inner circle, who are the subject of sanctions which prevent them from visiting Europe among other things.

Paris-based press watchdog Reporters Without Borders this week named Mugabe a media "predator," writing that it was "thanks to its president that Zimbabwes privately-owned print media are constantly harassed and that the state-owned ZBC has a monopoly of radio and TV broadcasting."

"Mugabe has no problem with the arbitrary arrests and harassment to which most of the country's journalists are exposed," the report added.

[So the answer is to put travel restrictions on members of the Zimbabwean press? How does that support press freedom? - MrK]

Last week, unidentified intruders broke into the offices of the independent NewsDay newspaper and stole editor Brian Mangwende's computer and hard drives.

The incident came days after the newspaper had reported that army commander and Mugabe loyalist Lieutenant General Constantine Chiwenga had had to be flown to China for urgent medical treatment.

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