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Govt draws up travel ban hit-list
Valentine Maponga and Davison Maruziva, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
December 11, 2005

THE government, scaling up repression against Zimbabweans it considers among its trenchant critics, has compiled a list of people whose passports should be "seized, withdrawn and invalidated", The Standard can confirm. The move has drawn a chorus of condemnation both at home and abroad. The list was drawn up on 24 November and reportedly has the names of 64 on it, although The Standard has been able to confirm 17 on those blacklisted.

Last week's seizure of the passport of Trevor Ncube, the chairman of The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper marks the beginning of an onslaught against the private media through withdrawals of their travel documents.

On Friday MDC's Secretary for Information and Publicity, Paul-Themba-Nyathi had his passport seized and withdrawn by the State soon after arrival in Bulawayo from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Standard understands that the list of people whose passports should be seized, withdrawn and invalidated is from Tobaiwa T Mudede, the Registrar-General to Immigration and is listed as Reference D/9.

The letter from Elasto H Mugwadi, the Chief Immigration Officer, is dated 28 November 2005 and is headed Invalidation and withdrawal of Zimbabwe Passports. It reads:

"With immediate effect Zimbabwe Passport held by the under listed persons are deemed invalid and should be withdrawn on sight for onward transmission to the Chief Passport Officer.

"Attached hereto is a self-explanatory copy of the invalidation authority dated 24/11/05 from the Chief Passport Officer and the Registrar-General, Cde TT Mudede."

Mudede's letter to Immigration, dated 24 November 2005, says:

"You are please advised that the current Zimbabwe passports of the following holders are effectively withdrawn and invalidated for the purposes of passage. Please these passports must be surrendered to the Chief Passport Officer, if with- drawn."

The European Community (EU) and local analysts condemned the latest government move. The EU cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, which says: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country" guarantees freedom of movement.

In a statement, the EU said: "Any withdrawal of a passport prevents freedom of movement and is in breach of the Declaration. We have repeatedly expressed concerns about the human rights record in Zimbabwe and called on the government to respect individuals' rights, which include free expression and free movement."

Ncube said there was a linkage between the seizure of his passport, the listing of the other 16 and the Constitutional Amendment No 17 and that the intention is to create a climate of fear and intimidation.

"From here on Zimbabweans are going to be terrified to speak up and express themselves. The move is meant to frighten people. The 17 of us are being used as an example. I am the first person to have his passport withdrawn. I do not think I am likely to get my passport in Bulawayo. The passport will be sent to Harare," said Ncube, who is launching an application to have his passport back.

Meanwhile Ncube who last week appeared on an Australian sanctions' list said: "The Australians have called me and have apologised. They have said the issue is under review and it will be corrected."

MDC Secretary-General Professor Welshman Ncube said Themba-Nyathi was being punished for speaking out against Mugabe's repressive policies.

The Committee to Protect Journalists in its condemnation of Ncube's passport seizure said: "The existence of this list is an affront to basic rights including freedom of movement. This is nothing short-of a witch-hunt against those courageous few who still dare publicly to criticse President Robert Mugabe."

Mudede and Mugwadi were unavailable for comments all of Friday and yesterday.

But local analysts interviewed yesterday said there was no enabling legislation that would give the government a leeway to start impounding passports.

Arnold Tsunga, the human rights lawyer and director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the move couldn't be justified in terms of the country's laws and even by international statutes.

He said: "This kind of a purge can only be found in a dictatorship where there is a severely oppressive regime or in those governments who are suffering from severe paranoia and are even afraid of their own shadows," Tsunga said.

Rashweat Mkundu the director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa said the move is only an intensification of repression by Mugabe's government on the citizenry.

Mkundu said: "This goes to show how this government is determined to silence all dissenting voices. We have seen much of what this government can do to its own people since 2000. It's a grand plan to muzzle the Press and curtail the freedom of movement of the people in this country. This is just an abuse of State positions which is only synonymous with dictatorships."

Lovemore Madhuku, a Constitutional lawyer and political analyst said the seizures could never be justified in a democratic society.

Mudede's hit list:
Brian Kagoro; Raymond Majongwe; Trevor Ncube; Geoffrey Nyarota; Basildon Peta; Clive Masiiwa (sic); Nqobile Nyathi; Noble Sibanda; Bernard Mandizvidza; P Themba-Nyathi; Caroline Gombakomba; Tafadzwa Musekiwa; Grace Kwinjeh; Beatrice Mtetwa; Gabriel Shumba Marechera; Lloyd Mudiwa; and Lionel Saungweme.

This list was drawn up on 24 November 2005. However, there is an expanded list of 64 people and Ncube also features on that list.

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