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extent of the police violence
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Media Update 2007-9
Monday March 5th 2007
– Sunday March 11th 2007
Zimbabwe Campaign index
of images and articles
AS the week ended Zimbabweans witnessed
a vicious attack on their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms when
the police violently stopped a planned civic meeting in Highfield,
shot dead an MDC activist and brutally assaulted opposition and
civic leaders they had detained.
While all the media reported on the matter,
it was only the private radio stations and online news agencies
that captured the full extent of the police violence.
The government media either distorted
the circumstances leading to the violence that erupted following
the foiled meeting or simply presented the police actions as a justifiable
response to alleged MDC violence and its disregard for the recently
imposed ban on public gatherings.
For example, ZBC (11/3, evening bulletins)
and The Herald (12/3) simply drowned their audiences in the
police’s one-sided account of events surrounding the aborted civic
meeting, which sought to project the police and ordinary members
of the public as victims of wanton violence by the opposition.
In fact, these media allowed police spokesman
Wayne Bvudzijena to present the police as having acted in self-defence
against "an unruly mob of some 200 MDC thugs who were
using children as shields" when they shot dead an MDC
No attempt was made to independently
corroborate Bvudzijena’s claims or seek comment from the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, organizers of the gathering.
A clearer version of the story appeared
in several private electronic media (11&12/3).
For instance, not only did they attribute
the violence to the police, but also revealed that the arrested
MDC leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai, had been severely beaten
up in custody.
The government media initially ignored
this and only mentioned it in passing and in the context of the
State’s concession that the arrested leaders should be granted access
to medical attention during their court appearance (The Herald
Apart from exposing the violent suppression
of the meeting, the private media carried 11 other incidents of
continued rights violations in the country.
These included the arrest of university
activists, the barring of meetings organized by civic bodies and
the petrol bombing of homes belonging to MDC officials by suspected
As a result of the country’s repressive
media laws that have muzzled the activities of the mainstream private
media, only those able to access the niche market private media
were informed about such rights violations, which the dominant government
media continue to suppress.
Zimbabwe’s information drought, worsened
during the week with news that the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group
had ‘suspended’ the publication of its two titles The Daily Mirror
and The Sunday Mirror citing operational problems (The
Herald and the Zimbabwe Independent, 9/3).
However, the Independent linked the ‘temporary’
closure of the papers to their takeover by the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), which the weekly claimed had failed to "turn
the (group) into a profitable business". Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi echoed similar views
adding that it was "government meddling in matters that
should be entirely private" that had plunged the Mirror
group into problems.
And as this report was being compiled,
New Zimbabwe.com (13/3) announced that the board of The Financial
Gazette – another paper reportedly taken over by the state security
agents – had finally "succumbed to pressure from Zanu
PF and the CIO" to fire its Editor-in-Chief Sunsleey
Chamunorwa over the paper’s criticism of government policies.
The agency reported "sources"
claiming that the CIO had tried on several occasions to have Chamunorwa
removed but were blocked by the paper’s alleged main shareholder
central bank governor Gideon Gono.
The media rights NGO, MISA (13/3), in
its alert on the matter, quoted unnamed sources linking the Media
and Information Commission’s delays in renewing the papers’ operating
licence to "intense pressure" some "powerful
politicians" were exerting to "push the
The Herald (14/3) avoided
such angles and restricted itself to the Gazette board’s vague claims
that Chamunorwa had been "suspended" over
"legal matters" in a small story the paper
carried on the subject.
the MMPZ fact
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