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clampdown on journalists
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2007-12
March 26th 2007 – Sunday April 1st 2007
AS this report
was being compiled, the British-based Independent (4/4)
reported that the authorities' renewed clampdown on journalists
had resulted in the murder of ZBC part-time cameraman Edward Chikomba.
According to the paper, Chikomba was found dead in Darwendale over
the weekend following his abduction from his Glen View home on Thursday
Reportedly, his "captors drove a silver pick-up
truck of the same make used in numerous similar abductions during
a sustained three-week terror campaign targeting government opponents".
Although the motive behind the murder was unclear, the paper suggested
it was linked to "the smuggling out of the country
of television pictures" of the badly injured
opposition leaders who were beaten up by police in early March.
The private radio stations
SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 (4/4) carried similar reports.
private electronic media (2/4) reported the arrest and assault in
custody of The Zimbabwean correspondent, Gift Phiri. The
police were reported to have initially accused Phiri of "petrol
bombing police stations" but later changed the
charge to "practising journalism without accreditation".
Radio Africa revealed that the journalist had applied for accreditation
"some time ago but had received no response".
Notably, under the country's repressive media laws, journalists
can still practise while the government-appointed Media and Information
Commission considers their application. But despite such provisions,
Phiri's lawyer told the station that his client had been severely
beaten up in custody and "forced to sign a warned
and cautioned statement" admitting the allegations.
In another development,
SW Radio Africa (2/4) reported that South African-based Time
magazine reporter Alexander Perry was also arrested on Saturday
and "held in Gwanda" for "allegedly
entering the country without official media accreditation".
The next day The Herald (3/4) reported that Perry had appeared
before a Gwanda magistrate and had been convicted under the repressive
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) of practicing
journalism without accreditation. He pleaded guilty and was fined
$100, according to The Herald.
ZANU PF MP and
youth leader Savious Kasukuwere appeared to expose the reasons behind
such intolerance of the independent media. Asked by ZimDaily.com
(29/3) to respond to claims that he was responsible for the brutal
beatings of opposition leaders he was quoted threatening the agency:
"I will deal with you traitors. You think we are
going to continue letting you publish statements that are prejudicial
to the Republic of Zimbabwe."
the appalling and illegal abduction and assault of civilians under
any circumstances, and particularly the failure by the so-called
public media to report such gross human rights abuses.
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