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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Index of results, reports, press stmts and articles on March 31 2005 General Election - post Mar 30
elections and repressive media laws
Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2005-12
April 5th - Sunday April 10th 2005
parliamentary elections underscored the repressive legislative environment
under which journalists are operating in the country. This followed
the arrest of two British journalists and the deportation of a Swedish
one, who were all accused of breaching sections of the draconian
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
In its story
on the arrest of the British based Sunday Telegraph journalists,
Julian Simmonds and Toby Harnden, The Herald (1/6) reported that
the two were arrested and charged with committing illegal journalism,
a violation under AIPPA, for allegedly taking pictures of voters
in Norton without accreditation. Secretary for Information and Publicity
George Charamba was quoted using the incident as ammunition to reinforce
government's attack on Britain saying the two's arrest showed "the
utter disregard the British have of Zimbabwean laws". Added
Charamba: "We did not accredit them. ... Their presence in
the country is an act of defiance and an act of lawlessness. ...
All that goes to show that the British media borrow its attitude
and politics from the British government."
In another related
matter, The Herald and the Chronicle (2/4) reported that the authorities
had deported a Swedish journalist, Fredrick Anders Sperling for
violating AIPPA and the Immigration Act. According to the two government
dailies, Sperling, who was accredited to cover the elections, had
allegedly embarked on "another mission" to "stage-manage
an incident" aimed at undermining "government's land
reform and resettlement exercise". Reportedly, Sperling
"teamed up" with a former Norton farmer, a Mr. Whaley
and "stage-managed" interviews with former farm-workers
at Kwayedza Farm.
But it is not
only journalists who have borne the brunt of the country's repressive
laws. Scores of individuals, including members of the opposition
have been arrested under the draconian Public Order and Security
Act (POSA), which unreasonably restricts Zimbabweans' freedom of
association and assembly. But it also contains sections curtailing
freedom of expression, by - among other restrictions - creating
the crime of denigrating the office of the President. And this week
The Daily Mirror (8/4) reported that a Bulawayo woman, Vulisizwe
Sibindi, who was arrested at Beitbridge border post on allegations
of breaching POSA, had been released after the court threw out the
State case against her. Sibindi, who had been in detention since
March 25, was arrested after the police found her in possession
of books they claimed "contained information denigrating President
Herald (6/4) reported that an MDC supporter Artwell Murungweni appeared
in court facing charges of denigrating President Mugabe after the
announcement of the initial election results. Murungweni was also
charged under POSA. Although the media exposed such cases, they
passively reported them without viewing them as part of the authorities'
use of patently undemocratic laws to unreasonably restrict and control
free expression in Zimbabwe.
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