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clashes in Highfield
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Media Update 2007-6
Monday February 12th 2007 – Sunday February 18th
media’s role as messengers of government propaganda was well illustrated
at the end of the week under review by the manner in which they
covered up for the violent police dispersal of thousands of people
who had attempted to attend a court-sanctioned MDC rally in Highfield
Instead of informing
their audiences of this flagrant disregard for the rule of law by
reporting that the police had initiated the violent clashes and
had thereby defied a High Court order barring them from interfering
with the rally, ZBC (18/2, evening bulletins), The Herald
and Chronicle (19/2) deliberately distorted the facts to
project the MDC as a violent and lawless party.
presented the opposition as being responsible for triggering the
violence that erupted in the Harare suburb.
for example, reported that the MDC had “unleashed violence”
ahead of the party’s rally, which it claimed “eventually failed
to take place” as opposition’s “rowdy” youths
“fought battles with the police”.
It then simply
allowed police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena to attempt to justify
the police’s unlawful conduct on the basis that the opposition had
“perpetrated acts of violence” in the past without
viewing such actions as contemptuous of the courts.
To amplify this
flimsy defence The Herald then referred to an unrelated event
that resulted in the arrest of 10 MDC supporters and two opposition
MPs on allegations of “carrying out illegal demonstrations
The paper and
its counterparts simply regarded the police action as a rational
response to unreasonable civil disobedience without viewing it as
a reflection of the authorities’ determination to crush growing
they interpret the developments as an affirmation of the authorities’
paranoia and the extent to which Zimbabwe has become a police state.
It was against
this background that the government media continued to suffocate
other stories about the ongoing erosion of Zimbabweans’ civil liberties.
Only the private
media fully exposed such rights violations.
During the week
they carried 10 new incidents of rights abuses.
the police barring other MDC gatherings, the arrest of its members,
civic activists and university students, and the politicisation
of food in Chiredzi South.
the MMPZ fact
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