Media in Zimbabwe warned for
biased reporting of crackdown on
Zimbabwe issues stern warning to
foreign media, singles out CNN.
BY A CORRESPONDENT
March 24, 2007: The government of
Zimbabwe has issued a stern warning to
foreign media organizations operating
in the country even as the crackdown
on the opposition and democratic
forces is continuing.
Zimbabwe’s Information Ministry and
the state-sponsored Media and
Information Commission have issued
threats to foreign correspondents
working in Zimbabwe and also accused
CNN of biased reportage on the
situation in Zimbabwe and “peddling
false stories” on security issues.
The government also threatened to
crack down on unlicensed foreign
reporters making clandestine visits.
Erring reporters have been asked to
“stay away from the security forces”
or face action.
State radio and television, Zimbabwe’s
sole broadcaster, and the Herald
newspaper, a government mouthpiece,
singled out the US network CNN for
“biased reports on political unrest
and the alleged assault and torture of
opposition leaders, including Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the main
Movement for Democratic Change.
The Zimbabwe government denied foreign
news reports that it was forced to
call in 2,500 paramilitary
reinforcements from Angola to help
control unrest because Zimbabwe’s own
forces were no longer loyal to
President Robert Mugabe.
In a statement, the Information
Ministry in Harare said CNN’s
editorial policy “echoed the United
States government’s policy of regime
change in Zimbabwe.”
Both state television and radio
severely criticised CNN’s Africa
correspondent, Kenya-born Jeff
Koinange, now mostly reporting on
Zimbabwe from outside the country.
In 2006, Zimbabwe officials were
angered by a CNN report that said
acute food shortages forced hungry
Zimbabweans to eat mice. They also
accused black reporters working for
foreign news organizations of
betraying their continent.
Four foreign journalists have been
expelled under extensive media laws
enforced since 2003. British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is
officially banned, and scores of
independent local journalists have
been assaulted or arrested and jailed
under the media laws.
Robert Mugabe, 83, who has been ruling
Zimbabwe for many years, had ordered a
land re-distribution program in 2000
to seize white-owned commercial farms
and hand them over to blacks. The
program disturbed the economy of
Zimbabwe, former breadbasket of the
region – leading to acute shortages of
food, hard currency, gasoline,
medicines and other essential imports.
Annual inflation now stands at 1,730%
in Zimbabwe, and the International
Monetary Fund predicts it will reach
5,000% by the end of 2007.