Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Trillion Dollar Ad Campaign

The Zimbabwean, a newspaper printed in The UK but covering Zimbabwean news, has started a movement. It's called the Trillion Dollar Ad Campaign. They have taken useless Zim dollars (Because of hyperinflation, it's actually cheaper to print on the money than to use it to buy paper!), printed messages on them and distributed them around the streets of South African. The paper hopes South Africans will help their neighboring country.

Photo Credits: The Zimbabwean

To read more about this project, check out their website.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Here's to an new daily evening

The editors of The Financial Gazette, a private weekly paper in Zimbabwe, announced their plans to launch an evening daily paper soon. This event stands as a sign of loosening media restrictions in the country.

The paper, The Daily Evening Gazette, has been in the works for a while, according to the editors. Although a specific start-date has not yet been decided upon, senior positions will begin to be filled next week.

The country currently has only one daily paper, The Herald, which is state-run.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Journalist have been charged

Two of the journalist that were arrested a few weeks ago have been charged. The editor of The Chronicle, Brezhnev Malaba and the author of the story, Nduduzo Tshuma, were charged with defamation.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Matthew Takaona said these charges raised eyebrows because the police had yet to investigate the allegations against their own.

Tshuma wrote a story in February linking the Bulawayo police and the Grain Marketing Board to maize sold on the black market. Neither men have pleaded yet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Musical Criticism of Mugabe

I found this video accidentally while on Youtube. In today's world, the internet is a powerful weapon for voicing criticisms of governments (or just about anyone you want for that matter...) No longer do we just have to stand outside of city hall protesting. With a click of a mouse, we can create something to been seen globally voicing our concerns. And it doesn't hurt if it has a catchy tune and a few jokes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2008 elections caught on tape

In 2008, Britain's The Guardian gave a prison guard a hidden camera to take into the prison where he worked. He was able to capture on film how Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF pressured people into voting for Mugabe during the elections. Their story is posted on Youtube here.

Documentary reveals human rights violations

Johann Abrahams has spent the last few months working with prison guards in order to capture the real prisons of Zimbabwe. He got guards who wanted to uncover the abuses to take hidden cameras into prisons. He has compiled the video into a documentary entitled "Hell Hole" that will air Tuesday on South African Broadcasting Corp's "Special Assignment." Some of the prisoners have already died since the filming.

Photo Credits: SABC

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Journalists arrested for uncovering scandal

Three journalists were arrested and charged with criminal defamation and breaches of the Criminal Law Act. Why? For doing what most journalists would consider their jobs.

The three men, Brezhnev Malaba, the editor of The Chronicle, Nduduzo Tshuma, a reporter, and Sithembile Ncube, a general manager at Zimpapers, were arrested after printing an article that uncovered corruption at the Grain Marketing Board. The scam, to which officials on the board as well as a few police officers were tied, involved diverting corn supplies away from hungry villagers and onto the black market.

The Bulawayo police claim the paper printed "falsehoods." Mark Bench, the executive director of the World Press Freedom Committee has already begun writing letters to Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai voicing concern over the arrests.

The full story can be found here at the SW RAdio Africa website.

Monday, March 23, 2009

End the Sanctions

The Herald published an article today on Mugabe's urge to the United States and the European Union to end their sanctions against Zimbabwe. Mugabe made his pleas during the launch of the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) last week. He hopes the influx of foreign aid will help revive the county. This plea also comes after Obama extended the US sanctions for another year earlier this month.

From the article:

Last week, the US said the inclusive Government has "a long way to go" before it (US) can remove sanctions.

A US State Department spokesman, Mr Robert Wood, said in Washington DC that his government had not seen evidence of what he said was an irrevocable move towards effective governance and respect of human rights.

"We have not yet seen sufficient evidence from the Government of Zimbabwe that they are firmly and irrevocably on a path to inclusive and effective governance, and as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law," he said.

He added: "So that government has a long way to go before we will consider . . . easing sanctions with that Government. We're not in any kind of discussion with . . . the Government of Zimbabwe on removing our targeted sanctions."

Mr Wood acknowledged that the sanctions have indeed caused terrible suffering but claimed that the US remains "very concerned about the plight of the Zimbabwean people."

The article also cited Trevor Manuel, South Africa's Finance Minister urging the Western countries to support the Zimbabwean government.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Launching a new paper?

Reutors reported yesterday Trevor Ncube hopes to get approval to start a new newspaper in Zimbabwe. The newspaper would be a "non-partisan and independent." It would also provide at least 300 jobs in a country with an unemployment rate of over 90 percent.

But will Ncube get the approval? He currently publishes two other newspapers, the Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard, and the Mail & Guardian of South Africa. All of these have been critical of Mugabe. Ncube even had his passport seized in 2005 in a question of citizenship that many saw as an attempt to silence him. Originally from Zimbabwe, he currently lives in South Africa.

What could be an even bigger problem is trying to persuade foreign investors to provide the millions of dollars it would cost to start the newspaper.

Will the new government really be more leneant and allow another newspaper with the possiblility of criticism? It would definitely be a giant step towards freeing the press.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sharing the power of the media

I found this video on youtube about the attempts of Tsvangirai and Mugabe to share power. This power spans into the media. The video mentions the control of the media has been spilt among the two men. Mugabe controls the state television channel, radio stations and newspapers while Tsvangirai gets internet and cells phones. Although the internet has so much potential to help spark change, the simple facts are that more people listen to the radio and read the papers than have internet access.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Null and Void"

On Wednesday, President Mugabe used the state-owned and operated newspaper The Herald to post a list of senior civil servants he had picked. The problem? He did not consult Prime Minister Tsvangirai, which made this his first misdoing on the agreement to share power the two men had made some months ago.

Tsvangirai declared in an email, "The announcement of permanent secretaries has no force of law and is therefore null and void."

The Herald ran a list of senior civil servant appointees selected by Muagbe without any other kind of confirmation. This is nothing new in a country where the major newspapers are owned by the government. The New York Times ran an article about this calling the state media "his mouthpiece," a statement not far from the truth.

In reading (or trying to read, because most of the time, the websites do not work) the newspapers from Zimbabwe, I've noticed many miscongruencies. The number of cholera cases as reported by The Herald and by other major news and medical organizations (The New York Times, Doctors Without Borders) are so significantly different it seems a bit fishy. When Mugabe's wife was arrested in Hong Kong, no word was mentioned of it in the press in the country.

I also find it weird the websites do not have a comprehensive archive of the stories. What you read on the website today, you will not be able to easily find on the website tomorrow. The websites also tend to be down a lot. When you visit them, you have the option of "click here if you're in Zimbabwe" or "click here if you're outside of Zimbabwe." If you click the outside option, the html coding tends to be messed up to the point where the text of the story is so skewed on the page, you can't read the story. The in Zimbabwe option tends to work out okay though.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Bob you've had your cake. Now beat it!"

While Mugabe celebrated his birthday with a $300,000 (US dollars) party on Saturday, more farmers are being kicked off their farms. More white farmers.

An article from BBC said:
The CFU president blamed the invasions on a minority of figures close to Zanu-PF who were "using their offices to ensure ethnic cleansing can take place before the prime minister is able to stabilise the country."

As Mugabe ate his birthday cake on Saturday, opposition members who have been banished to South Africa, sat on the South African bank of the Limpopo and protested. Roy Bennett was among them.

"We are gathered here after many years of suffering, while across the river, after 28 years, a man who is now 84 years old, is having a birthday party," he said. "A birthday party while everybody around him is starving and dying. There's no electricity, there are no roads, there are no jobs, there's no education, there's no medical, there's no nothing," he added.

Photo Credit: BBC

With the so-called "ethnic cleansing" goes part of Zimbabwe's chance to recover from both economic hardships and famine. Some of their major exports used to be corn and tobacco. With the decrease in farmers, money coming into the economy has severely dropped. And of course, with less farms comes less food for the people to eat. The number of white farmers has dropped from around 4,000 to 400.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadu) Tribunal ruled in November in favor of the evicted landowners. The Tribunal said the Zimbabwean government's policy of redistributing seized property to landless black farmers was both illegal and discriminatory. Yet the government has said it will not comply with the ruling.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cholera's grasp on Zimbabwe's people

Today, Doctors Without Borders issued a press release telling just how bad conditions are becoming. The organization estimates it has helped treat 45,000 people with Cholera, but this figure is only 75% of the number of the infected.

Photo Credit: Doctors Without Borders

Manuel Lopez, head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Zimbabwe, said this about the situation of health care:
There has been a devastating implosion of Zimbabwe's once-lauded health system, which doesn't just affect cholera patients. We know that public hospitals are turning people away, health centers are running out of supplies and equipment, there is an acute lack of medical staff, patients can't afford to travel to pick up their HIV medication or to receive treatment, and many of our own clinics are overflowing. From what we see each day it couldn't be clearer - this is a massive medical emergency spiraling out of control.

The organization is calling upon the governement to help as well as "ease bureaucratic restrictions" in order to get help to those who need it in a more timely fashion.

For the full report, go to Doctors Without Borders

Tsvangirai's new job

Less than a week has passed since Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister and both The Chronicle and The Herald are reporting on his busy days. The two newspapers, both owned by Zimpapers, ran practially identical articles.

The new Prime Minister has been appointing new cabinet members and meeting with various officials from both parties. The papers cited Tsvangirai's spokesperson as saying "Prime Minister Tsvangirai also made it clear that they were meeting as Zimbabwean leaders, not as Zanu-PF or MDC leaders, and the ministers should be seen putting forward issues that promote the image of Zimbabwe."

The articles also mentioned Tsvangirai's big plans for education. Only time will tell how long Tsvangirai can work together with Mugabe and his government.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hanging up a "Do Not Enter" Sign on the Border

Zimbabwe’s press today lies in ruins. If, in 2007, Reporters Without Borders has recorded fewer press freedom violations than in previous years, it is because there are very few journalists left to arrest, newspapers to close or foreign correspondents to expel.

This is how Reporters Without Borders's annal report from 2008 on Zimbabwe begins. The country, under the ruling of Robert Mugabe since 1980, has become one spot where journalists are not welcome. The government has managed to close down many of the privately owned newspapers. Foreign reporters are often arrested, if they make it into the country to begin with. Large media corporations like the BBC and CNN are banned from the country. Many bylines on the country featured in newspapers like the New York Times read "Johannesburg," the largest city of neighboring South Africa.