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.