Friday, February 16, 2007

Are The Chickens Finally Coming Home To Roost

The past few weeks since the beginning of this year, show that 2007, is certainly going to be an interesting year.

Indications are that the people of Zimbabwe, are not only angry but have become a bit more agitated and restless.

For journalists, this is going to be an exciting period in their careers. But also also a dangerous one. The Mugabe regime is known for reacting more viciously when it feels it is being cornered.

However the Co-ordinator of the Zim Journalists Arise, urges Journalists to not only keep safe, but also to be cautious in blindly cheerleading pro-democracy groups. Although journalists are not activists, we urge journalists to continue to criticise these groups, challenge them and hold them accountable to their promises. That way no-one group becomes complacent.

A speacial mention goes to Progressive Teachers Union, secretary general Raymond Majongwe for a job well done. With more Majongwe's Zimbabwe will soon be a free country again.

Happy and Safe Reporting.
Tsvangirai Rally In Chiredzi Ahead Of Weekend Elections

By Gerry Whitehead
(Lowveld News)

The MDC rally was held at Dorman Long Township near the Hippo Valley Estates mill not Dumisa Township as I had reported yesterday.
Morgan Tsvangarai arrived late from a morning rally that the party had organized at Chikombedzi; some 150 km away on some of the worst roads in Africa (No feed back on this rally yet)

No sooner had Morgan arrived 10 police officers also arrived in a L/Rover which I had seen parked near the mill an hour before. (Obviously waiting for word of Morgan’s arrival.) The police spoke to Mishek Marava (The shadow MP for the MDC Zaka East) who went over and spoke to Morgan obviously to tell him that he was out of time for his meeting. (This was confirmed later)
Morgan ignored this and managed to give a 15 minute speech where he described the hardships that the ZANU PF Government had caused the people and the only way out was to vote for the MDC. He never once mentioned the break away faction and ended by daring the police to arrest them, telling them that he was ready for this if they did try.

The rally ended with a prayer by Elias Mudzuri (The suspended mayor of Harare) who finished with “we hope that GOD will give the police some new boots.” This did bring out a roar of laughter from the crowed including the police. (All the MDC rallies that I have been to have started and ended with a Prayer)

The rally I feel was a disappointment as there were only about 80 people there and they seemed to be very subdued and Morgan did not have enough time to get his full message across.
The good news though, is that on the way to and from the rally I was greeted with the MDC’s hand signal many times, in fact for the last 3 to 4 months I have noted an increase of these signals, not once in the last 12 months have I seen a ZANU PF fist signal directed at me. I have found the people in the communal areas very friendly but always begging for a hand out. However this is very different on the occupied farms, there a white person would be in grave danger, this is where Mugabe’s supporters are located.
Mugabe in just 27 years has turned this country into a land of dying people, thieves and beggars.

There is no doubt in my mind that sooner or later the economics in this country will trigger mass action, hopefully the leadership in the MDC will be ready for this.
Private Radio Stations No Longer Broadcasting, Martial Law Declared In Guinea

By International Federation of Journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the authorities in Guinea to stop terrorising media after recent attacks on radio stations that took place even before the government's declaration of martial law yesterday evening.

Before martial law was declared yesterday, soldiers arrested two
employees of a radio station and raided two stations and demanded that they stop broadcasting. Currently no private radio stations are broadcastingin the country, either because they have been shut down or are afraid of military attacks.

"We are calling on the Guinean authorities for the immediate and
unconditional release of two FM Liberté employees," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "We denounce this terror in the mediainstituted by the state of siege and invite President Conté to put an end to it without delay so that the journalists can work with complete freedom and in full safety."

Yesterday soldiers attacked FM Liberté, one of the four new private
radios stations in Guinea. The soldiers destroyed some equipment before arresting journalist Mohamed Tondon Camara and technician David Camara.

The attack followed a phone-in programme during which the listeners
asked for the departure of President Lansana Conté.

Similar programming, according to sources, prompted soldiers to raid another private radio station, Familia FM, and demanded it stop broadcasting. Fearing that they will also be attacked, the two other private radio stations in Guinea have decided to shut down.

Yesterday evening President Conté declared martial law and said the
country was in a "state of siege" after unions called a general strike and more than 10 people were killed. According to the President's decree,the military authority "is entitled to take suitable measures to ensure the control of the press and publications of any nature, as well as radio or television broadcasted programmes."

The army also has the authority to control postal, telegraphic and telephone correspondence.

The IFJ fears for the safety of local journalists and correspondents for international media in Guinea, some of whom are now in hiding because they fear they will be attacked. Reporting in the field also presents enormous risks for them. One was already injured during demonstrationsin Guinea in January when someone threw a rock at a car carrying journalists.
Two US journalists Avoid Prison After Source Turns Self In

By Reporters Without Borders

Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, of the daily "San Francisco Chronicle", threatened with imprisonment by a federal court for refusing to reveal their source of information in a sports drugs scandal, are unlikely to goto jail after all.

But the Reporter Without Borders said this conclusion did not resolve the root of the problem, since the source had effectively turned himself in and pleaded guilty.

"If the lawyer Troy Ellerman had not admitted to giving information to Williams and Fainaru-Wada, the prison sentence imposed in the lower court for "contempt of court" would likely have been upheld on appeal on 7 March 2007," the organisation said. "This is a happy outcome for the journalists but is in no way a victory for press freedom and protection of sources."

Williams and Fainaru-Wada reported in the "San Francisco Chronicle" in 2004 on a federal grand jury investigation into drug-taking in the sports world, implicating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). The journalists had obtained a copy of testimony by three baseball players and one athlete accused of taking steroids allegedly provided by BALCO.

Ordered to reveal the source of the investigation leak, the two
journalists cited the right to protect their sources, which is recognised in 33 states, but not at the federal level. On 15 August, federal judge Jeffrey White sentenced them both to 18 months in prison for "contempt of court", the maximum penalty. Their lawyers immediately appealed.

Their appeal was frequently adjourned but finally set for 7 March 2007.

In the meantime, on 14 February, Troy Ellerman, one of the a lawyers for the accused sports figures, admitted that he had given the journalists his clients' statements and said he would plead guilty to "contempt of court", "obstructing justice" and "breaking an oath", offences considered federal crimes. Ellerman faces two years in prison and a US$250,000 fine, if the judge accepts the deal.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, on 19 January had pleaded the case of the two journalists in a letter to the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, repeating her support for a federal law guaranteeing journalists the right to protect their sources.

Reporters Without Borders said Nancy Pelosi's action in taking up the case of the two journalists with the department of justice and voicing support for a federal "shield law" allowing protection of sources meant that the case had in one respect marked a major step forward, in the direction sought by the organisation.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

(pix by IWMF)
Women Journalists Invited To Apply For The International Media's Foundation's Awards For Bravery

Former Daily News Editor Sandra Nyaira won this award in 2002 can our Zimbabwean female journaists apply for this and make it a second, Come On Ladies, especially at a time when there is a very poisonous letter writer who is working day and nite to tarnish the image of Zimbabwean journalists in the name of press freedom. While it seems the journallism fraternity is watching this poison pervade our newsrooms until this poison touches them personally, this is the time for Zimbabwean female journalists to work harder and prove that they have sweated and worked hard to be where they are. The reckless, malicious name dropping is a shame of our journos and some respected editors

By I-JNet
Women journalists from any country who have demonstrated strength of character in pursuing their profession under difficult or dangerous circumstances have until March 15 to be considered for a journalistic prize.

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is seeking nominations for the Courage in Journalism Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award

The first award will recognize three women who show a commitment to journalism in the face of government oppression, political pressure, physical danger or other intimidating obstacles. The Lifetime Achievement Award will honor a woman journalist who has a pioneering spirit and whose determination has paved the way for future generations of women.

Self-nominations are not accepted, and all the nominations must be in English. Each winner will receive a cash prize of US$5,000. The award ceremony will be in New York and in Los Angeles at the end of 2007.
World Association Of Newspapers To Hold Press Freedom Conference

The challenges and opportunities of new media for press freedom are the subjects of a major conference in Paris in February organised by the World Press Freedom Committee, the World Association of Newspapers and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The conference, to be held on 15 and 16 February at UNESCO headquarters, examines a wide range of issues around new media's impact on press freedom, both positively and negatively.

Full conference details, including registration information, can be found at .

Sessions include:

"New Media -- Expanding Press Freedom," an opening session with presentations by Koichiro Matsurra, Director General of UNESCO, Richard Winfield, Chairman of the World Press Freedom Committee, Timothy Balding, CEO of the World Association of Newspapers, and Leslie Harris, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"New Media in New Democracies," which will present case studies and will feature Pauls Raudsept, Editor of the Editorial Page of the Diena daily in Latvia, Fabricio Altamirano, Publisher of El Diario de Hoy in El Salvador and Chairman of the Inter American Press Association's Internet Committee, Levan Berdzenishvilli, a Member of Parliament and an Internet specialist from Georgia, Elizabeth Barrat, Executive Editor for Multimedia and Training at The Johannesburg Start and General Secretary of the African Editors Forum, and Albert Rudatsimbura Byron of Contact FM in Rwanda. The session will be moderated by Johann Fritz, Director of the International Press Institute.

"New Media Under Challenge," with presentations by Soe Myint of Burma, Editor of Mizzima online news service, Sharon Hom, Director of Human Rights in China, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Managing Editor of the Freedom of the Press Survey at Freedom House, and Anton Nosik, President of the Rambler Search Portal in Russia. The session will be moderated by Abi Wright, Communications Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Direct Satellite Broadcasting/Digital TV/Public Service Broadcasting - Opportunities for Diversity," which will feature Imad el Atrache of Al Jazeera, Saad Mohseni of Tolo TV in Afghanistan, Boris Bergant of RTV Slovenia, Jean Lesieur, Deputy Editor of France 24 international network, and Alfonso Ruiz de Assin, President of the International Association of Broadcasting. The session will be moderated by Henrikas Yushkiavitshus, Media Consultant and former Vice Chairman of Gostelradio in Russia.

"News Online," with Sankarshan Thakur, Executive Editor of the Tehelka online newspaper in India, Neil Budde, General Manager of Yahoo!, Rosental Alves, Director of the Knight Center for Journalism, Nora Paul, Director of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota in the United States, and Sawaan Zaidah, Editor-in-Chief of AmmanNet Radio in Jordan. Moderator for the session will be Mogens Schmidt, Director of the UNESCO Division of Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace.

"How Young People Get Their News", which will feature Chris Schuepp, Coordinator, Young People¹s Media Network, UNICEF, Roxana Morduchowicz, Director of Media Education, Argentinian Education Ministry, Evelyne Bevort, Associate Director of the Centre de Liaison de l¹Enseignement et des Moyens d¹Information in France, and Robert Barnard, Founder and Partner, of the Canadian research firm D-Code. Moderator for the session will be Aralynn McMane, Director of Young Readership Development for WAN.

"Bloggers as Journalists/Local News and New Media/Citizen Media", which includes Oh Yeon-Ho, Founder of Ohmynews online newspaper in South Korea, Steve Yelvington, Vice President of Morris Digital Works in the United States, Karma Tshering Bhutia, Research Coordinator for Nepal Community Multimedia, Declan McCullagh, Senior Writer for CNET in the United States, and Ehab Elzelaky, Blog Editor at the Al Dustour weekly in Egypt.
The Moderator will be Mary Lou Fulton, Vice President of Audience Development and The Bakersfield Californian in the United States.

"Circumventing the Censors", with presentations by Gus Hosein, Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, Gerry Jackson, Founder and Station Manager of SW Radio Africa, Omar Faruk Osman, General Secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists, and Leonard Sussman, Senior Scholar for Freedom House. The Moderator will be Julien Pain, Head of the Internet Freedom desk, Reporters Without Borders.

The concluding session will include Abdul Waheed Khan, Assistant Director, General for Communication, UNESCO, Gary Kebbel, Journalism Program Officer, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and William Orme, Policy Advisor, Independent Media Development, United Nations Development Programme.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English and French.
The conference is supported by the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations, which includes, in addition to WAN and the WPFC, the Committee to Protect Journalists; Commonwealth Press Union; Inter American Press Association; International Association of Broadcasting; International Association of the Periodical Press (FIPP); International Press Institute; North American Broadcasters Association; and the World Press Freedom Committee.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 18,000 newspapers; its membership includes 76 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 10 regional and world-wide press groups.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Media scholarships to attend AIDS conference

Region :Sub-Saharan Africa
Country :South Africa
Topic :Health, HIV/AIDS, Fellowships and Awards

Journalists interested in HIV/AIDS can apply for a scholarship to attend the 3rd South African AIDS Conference. Application deadline: January 31.
The main aim of the conference is to bring together activists, community workers, policy makers and media representatives to reach a consensus on prevention, treatment and care. The event is scheduled to take place June 5 to 8 at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Durban.
Scholarships are available for journalists to encourage a large number of media representatives to attend the conference. The scholarship covers the registration fee only. All applicants must be able to cover their travel, accommodation and living costs independently.
An application form for the media scholarship is available on the conference website. Interested applicants should download and e-mail the completed application to or print and fax the completed form to the conference secretariat at local fax: 0861 115 181 5 or international fax: +27 (0) 12 460 7191 2658.

For more information, visit

Guinea Minister Censors All Private Radio Stations
As Zimbabwe braces for more strikes

By the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
The Minister of Information of Guinea, Boubacar Yacine Diallo, on 15 January 2007 ordered all private and community radio stations not to broadcast any material on the ongoing general strike by the country's workers protesting against the high cost of living and other national concerns.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) correspondent reports that Yacine Diallo issued the directive in separate visits to the various radio stations and threatened to confiscate the broadcasting equipment of any station that disobeyed the gag orders.

The correspondent said that the minister, who is the former chairman of the media regulator, the National Council for Communication (CNC), told the journalists, "I still control the CNC and I assure you all that all the security forces are on the alert".

On the state media, the correspondent reported that Yacine Diallo has assumed the control of the state radio and television stations and personally edits the news for broadcasting.

Following the government censorship orders, the private newspapers have also stopped publishing in solidarity with their colleagues in the electronic media.

The two main trade unions, the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) and the Guinean Workers Union (USTAG), and the opposition parties want President Lansana Conte to step down from power as a result of his prolonged ill-health and other national concerns, including the general situation of undemocratic governance, corruption, and the impoverishment of the population.

The MFWA condemns the imposition of censorship on the media in Guinea as a gross violation of freedom of expression, and a threat to peace, stability and democracy in a country that has been near collapse into violent conflict for some years now.

The MFWA calls on the government to lift the censorship immediately. The organisation also urges democratic leaders in the ECOWAS to pressure the Guinea government to initiate steps to democratise governance.

Guinea, the last country in West Africa to introduce independent broadcasting, opened up the airwaves for private broadcasting in early 2006.
Increased Online Censorship In China

By Reporters Without Borders

There has been a wave of violations of online free expression since the start of the year, says Reporters Without Borders. A website covering corruption cases was shut down on 8 January 2007, the Sichuan authorities are continuing to enforce an Internet ban on Tibetan poet Woeser and the wife of Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong), one of the 50 cyber-dissidents jailed in China, said on 12 January that he is being regularly tortured.

"The Internet is developing at breakneck speed in China but without any letup in censorship," Reporters Without Borders said. "Both in Beijing and the provinces, the authorities still crack down on those who discuss sensitive political issues online. We are particularly shocked at the report of Guo Feixiong being tortured in prison. China continues to be a police state that sees the Internet as something to be censored and controlled. This must be resisted."

A lawyer held since 14 September 2006, Guo Feixiong is officially charged with "illegal business activities" but the real reason for his detention is his human rights activity. He is a member of the writers' organisation, the Independent Chinese PEN, and regularly wrote for news websites. His wife, Zhang Qing, told Agence France-Presse he has been repeatedly tortured. She said he had been chained to a bed and beaten for 40 days in a row to make him confess.

The authorities are continuing to enforce an online publication ban on Tibetan writer and poet Woeser, whose blogs were shut down in July 2006. The police in the city of Mingyang, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, ordered a Tibetan website on 7 December to eliminate any reference to her writings.

Finally on 8 January, the police in Xiamen, in the southeastern province of Fujian, closed down , a website founded in 2003 that published news about corruption cases and monitored the activities of local authorities. The police said it published "bad information." One of its recent articles was headlined "Liaoning province committee secretary protects murky forces."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Latest MMPZ Report

1. General comment
THE country’s worsening human rights situation continued to dominate the limelight during the Christmas holidays and the beginning of the New Year. The media carried 36 stories on the subject (between December 18th and January 14th) of which 12 were new incidents and the rest were follow-up reports.

The 12 included stripping publisher Trevor Ncube of his citizenship; the detention and victimisation of opposition party officials and supporters; an attack on civic activists, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians by the police.

Although the official media carried some of the stories they reported them passively, treating them as normal developments.

For example, The Herald (30/12) merely announced that Ncube was contesting the authorities’ decision to strip him of his Zimbabwean citizenship on the basis that his father was born in Zambia. It quoted Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede defending his actions saying Ncube had allegedly failed to “renounce (his) Zambian citizenship by descent within the prescribed period (July 6 2001 to January 6 2002)” as required under the country’s tyrannical citizenship laws.

No attempt was made to discuss the implications of this development on the future of his publications, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard.

Instead, ZBC (4/1, 8pm) and The Herald (5/1) reported the Media and Information Commission dismissing online agencies’ reports arguing that the move could be part of government’s plans to shut down his papers, which are among the few alternative sources of information still available to the public.

Apart from falsely claiming that such reports emanated from Ncube’s weeklies, the commission misled the public into believing that under AIPPA the matter was inconsequential to his ownership of the two papers. It claimed that the law permitted Ncube to “maintain his ownership” of the papers “as long as he was regarded as permanently resident in Zimbabwe”.

The official media allowed such deceptive claims to pass without scrutiny therefore misleading the public into believing that there was no threat to his newspaper group. For example, they did not clarify the crucial issue of whether stripping Ncube of his citizenship automatically provided him with permanent residency status. MMPZ has not studied the law under which Ncube lost his citizenship, but it is most unlikely that it provides for automatic permanent residency and therefore the act of depriving Ncube of his Zimbabwean citizenship would still have implications for his shareholding in the Independent newspaper group.

Similarly, The Herald passively reported on the arrest (18/12) and the release on bail eight days later (22/12) of MDC MP Paul Madzore on public violence charges without interpreting the matter as indicative of the authorities’ unrelenting assault on civil liberties.

Neither did the paper, nor indeed, any government media, condemn the shooting to death of civilians by police, nor the arson attack on civic activist Lovemore Madhuku’s house.

As has become the norm, it was only the private media, especially the niche market private radio stations and online agencies that reported these violations in the context of them being indications of a paranoid and intolerant police state.

THERE was no marked difference in the manner in which the media tackled the country’s economic distress over the Christmas and New Year holidays, including the week ending January 14th.

The government media continued to reserve its energies to showering praise on the authorities’ economic programmes while only the private media remained critical of the direction government was steering the economic fortunes of the country.

For instance, although all media highlighted the country’s continued economic problems in the 237 stories they carried on the subject during this period (ZBC [93], the official Press [44], private Press [59]) and private electronic media [41]), only the private media linked the problems to government’s failed policies.

In contrast, the official media – which momentarily monopolised the media space over the better part of the festive period following the mainstream private papers’ holiday shutdown – dishonestly attributed the troubles to “illegal Western sanctions” and unscrupulous businesses. At the same time they depicted the authorities as taking the correct measures to revive the economy in 2007 and lessen consumers’ suffering.

Their duplicity was mirrored by the way they reported on skyrocketing inflation, commodity and service charges, and incidents of labour unrest, which also dominated media space in the week ending January 14th.

For instance, all the 77 stories they carried on these issues in the week (ZBC [40] and government papers [37]) only highlighted these indicators of economic decline without reconciling them with official optimism on the country’s economic outlook. As a result, the confusion caused by government’s ad hoc interventionist policies on the economy was left unexplored.

In comparison, the 84 stories the private Press carried on the issue during the week were, like the holiday reports, forthright on Zimbabwe’s economic decline and its causes. Of these, 64 were in private papers and 20 in the private electronic media.

The media failed to provide their audiences with contemporary reports of the junior doctors’ strike, which began before Christmas.

The private media belatedly covered the development (which the private online agency, New reported [27/12] as having started on December 21 last year) several days later. ZBC was even more neglectful. It only started reporting the strike two weeks later (Radio Zimbabwe 5/1, 8pm and ZTV & Spot FM 8/1, 8pm).

Even then, its coverage was in the context of official responses to the industrial action and contained no effort to provide their audiences with any informed analysis of the stand-off.

ZTV (8/1, 8pm), for example, simplistically dismissed the doctors’ strike, saying: “It has become traditional for doctors to go on strike at the beginning and end of each and every year”, without investigating why government had failed to permanently address the doctors’ grievances. Otherwise, the official media – despite trying to assess the human cost of the strike - narrowly projected the doctors as selfish and inconsiderate.

For instance, they neither viewed their strike as symptomatic of the ailing health sector nor linked it to worsening economic conditions that have triggered labour unrest in other sectors of the economy.

In fact, The Sunday Mail (7/1) tried to shield government’s culpability by deceitfully attributing the doctors’ concerns over poor working conditions and inadequate drugs and equipment to the “economic sanctions the West imposed on Zimbabwe”. Such professional dishonesty was also apparent in the manner in which the official Press handled the strike by ZESA employees over low salaries. ZBC completely ignored the matter.

The Herald (5/1), for example, merely reported that the power utility workers had gone on strike, without viewing their demand for over 1000% salary hike as a reflection of the extent to which economic decline has eroded workers’ salaries.

It was against this background that the paper (10/1) reported the failure by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council to meet the examinations marking deadline due to “low turnout by markers owing to poor payment rates” and the exodus of teachers to neighbouring countries (The Herald and Chronicle, 9/1) without reference to the economic hardships faced by Zimbabwe’s dwindling workforce.

The pattern remained unbroken in ZBC’s coverage of the strike by Gwanda municipal workers (Spot FM 10/1, 8pm and ZTV 13/1, 8pm).

The government media’s inadequate coverage of the subject was mirrored by their narrow sourcing pattern in the week as exemplified by ZBC (See Fig 1).

Despite their belated coverage, the private media reports on the doctors’ strike were generally more informative and viewed the matter in the context of the collapse in the country’s health delivery system.

They also examined the strike’s impact on patients and highlighted the doctors’ grievances. For example, the Zimbabwe Independent (12/1) quoted doctors blaming government for the crisis, arguing that their wage demands were “realistic” because their current basic salary was “equivalent to two crates of beer…”

Earlier, The Financial Gazette (11/1) noted that while government described the doctors’ action as illegal, “no arrests, dismissals or suspensions have been reported” since the strike began, adding that the stalemate between the authorities and doctors would “prolong the suffering of patients”.

The Daily Mirror (8/1 & 12/1) revealed that the situation could worsen as senior doctors, nurses and paramedics, who were still manning the hospitals, had joined the strike also demanding “better working conditions and competitive salaries”.

The paper, and indeed other private media, linked the industrial action to the country’s economic woes and to the outbreak of several other strikes, which observers projected could trigger mass demonstrations against government.

Studio 7 (9/1) also reported on threats by teachers that they “might go on strike” if they do not get an 800% salary rise, a 1,500% increment in transport allowances and a 1,000% increase in housing allowances.

The critical manner in which the private media handled the topic was reflected in its wide use of alternative voices as shown in the private electronic media’s sourcing pattern in the week. See Fig 2.

b. Price increases and inflation

THE government media failed to coherently discuss the sharp increases in commodity and service charges that characterised the Christmas holidays and the beginning of 2007 in the context of government’s policies.

The price hikes included that of bread, school fees and uniforms, and bus fares. The news of the increases came as Spot FM (22/12,8pm) reported new figures from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) that December’s consumer basket had increased to $246,000 up from $208,000 in November. Reports of declining fertilizer production also featured, in which ZimPhos, was said to be operating at 50%, and Windmill at 10% of their capacities (ZTV, 24/12,8pm).

Despite extensively highlighting these indicators of economic decline in 96 stories (ZBC [74] and the official papers [22]) during the holiday period, the government media avoided carrying informative analysis of the serious nature of these problems, nor did they attempt to identify their root causes.

Instead, the stories generally regurgitated official threats against businesses that raised their prices, even in instances where they did so with government approval.

Consequently, the confusion surrounding government’s price control regime and its adverse effects on the economy was unexplored.

For example, The Sunday Mail (31/12) passively reported some parents calling on government to intervene in the pricing of school uniforms without discussing the prudence of such a move. Instead, the paper and The Sunday News (7/1) continued to report passively on calls for price controls in the education sector.

However, The Herald (9/1) argued otherwise by noting that “schools are not spared from inflation”, adding that while it was important to “protect parents against unreasonable fee hikes, it is also vital to ensure that schools remain viable”.

But The Sunday Mail (14/11) did not relent. It continued sowing seeds of confusion by failing to reconcile government’s approval of a 1 000% increase in rates in Chitungwiza to reports in The Herald (4 & 9/11) and Spot FM (8/1, 8pm) featuring the Estate Agency Council and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo warning landlords against “illegally” charging “exorbitant rentals”.

Earlier, The Herald (27/12 & 5/1) also did nothing to clarify government price control policies when it allowed the authorities to confuse the public on its position over commuter omnibus fare increases. The paper, for example, simply quoted the authorities describing the hikes as “illegal” and threatening to “withdraw permits of urban omnibus operators flouting government gazetted prices” without pointing out that it was actually government that had sanctioned the fares.

In fact, the official media tried to divert attention from government’s failure to turn around the economy with unsubstantiated official optimism that 2007 would be better.

For example, ZTV (10/1, 8pm) merely cited unnamed analysts giving qualified optimism that “the inflation rate of between 500% to 600% prediction by fiscal authorities is attainable”. Neither did it explore their calls “for policy interventions in controlling money supply growth…” and the need to “stimulate Foreign Direct Investment as well as resuscitate foreign currency reserves.” Nor did they investigate the cause of the excessive money supply or how it could be controlled.

However, the next day ZTV (11/1, 8pm) quoted the public in Harare saying they were “losing hope” that inflation, currently running at 1 281%, “would decline this year considering that prices of basic commodities are now rising haphazardly yet their salaries remain stagnant”.

The same report cited business strategist Chester Mhende questioning the authorities’ methods of calculating the rate of inflation. He contended that they were using “wrong ingredients” such as the controlled official foreign exchange rate instead of the parallel market rate where businesses obtain hard currency. Thus, he added, the real rate of inflation “is far higher than what is being reported...”

The Herald (11/1) buried news of the record rate of inflation and the sharp increase in the monthly cost of living to its business section.

In contrast, the private media reported candidly on Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and quoted economists and other commentators predicting a bleak 2007 unless government listened to advice and implemented effective turnaround strategies.

For example, The Financial Gazette (11/1) reported analysts interpreting the rise in inflation as indicative of government’s “failure to slow an economic decline that is breeding conditions for unrest,” while the online Zimbabwe Times (6/1) cited economist John Robertson forecasting inflation to hit 4,000 percent “if government fails to adhere to advice offered to it by the IMF”.

Similar views were echoed in The Standard (14/1).

Earlier, Studio 7 (28/12) forecast that the spate of price hikes in goods and services in almost every sector of the Zimbabwean economy was likely to throw January’s salary adjustments into disarray. There was no so such analysis in the government media.

The difference in the manner in which the government and private media tackled the economy was reflected by their sourcing patterns.

For instance, although the official papers’ sourcing appeared diverse (See Fig 3), most of those outside government were quoted either endorsing government policies or calling on the authorities to enforce price controls.
ZimJournalists Arise Is Back

Happy New To All. We hope you have had a restful if not prosperous new year’s break. Though most journalists have been slogging on without a break as we are in the “essential” services category.

The year 2006 ended on a shocking note when President Mugabe unveiled plans to stay put until 2010.

The journalism fraternity lost chairman of the Zimbabwe Freelance Association Joe Kwaramba and also veteran journalist Farai Makotsi.

Just as journos wiped their tears to soldier on, two very distressing news to the fraternity filtered in.

We discovered that when Trevor Ncube’s passport was briefly confisticated in 2005, the malicious Zimbabwean government discovered that Trevor’s dad is Zambian. Now the media mogul is involved in a court dispute with the government. Although so far Trevor has refused to talk, speculation has been fueled that this may be used to close down his newspapers. However the Media Information Council, Tafa Mahoso says this will not be the case. Well, we will just have to wait and see.

Just before we could say “Zimbabwe Journalists Arise” our very creative government has come in with new laws on the registration of journalists.
According to the Herald ,mass media services and news agencies are required to to cough out

$600 000, this entails an application fee of $100 000 and a registration fee of
$500 000.

A Zimbabwean journalist working for a local media house will pay $10 000
application fee and $15 000 accreditation fee, while a local freelance
journalist will pay an application fee of $15 000 and an accreditation fee
of $20 000.

The late renewal of accreditation will attract a penalty of $10 000 per day,
$100 000 per day for late renewal of registration and $25 000 for a lost
accreditation card.

A local journalist working for a foreign media would pay an application fee
of US$200 and an accreditation fee of US$1 000.

Application for a temporary accreditation for a foreign journalist will cost
US$100 while accreditation would cost US$500.

Application for permission to operate a representative office of foreign
mass media service or news agency would attract an application fee of US$2
000 and a US$10 000 fee for permission to operate.

The fees were gazetted under the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy (Registration, Accreditation and Levy) (Amendment) Regulations, 2006
(No.3) published in last Friday's Government Gazette.

Meanwhile for those who still buy the Herald newspaper, its price has gone up. The Herald is now $1 000
The Sunday Mail $1 500
Chronicle $1 000
Sunday News $1 000
Manica Post $1 000
Kwayedza $500
Umthunywa $500
New Farmer $1 000
Zimbabwean Travel $1 500
Trends $1 500

Just before we said journalist, the most “scandalous “ thing happened from within our own circles. A shadowy character, whose sanity is questionable, wrote a poison letter through a dubious news website saying most unprintable stuff about fellow journalists. This was met with deafening silence from our so-called journalism organizations. Without having to demean ourselves to the low-level below the belt journalism practiced by this nut-case, we deplore such reckless defamatory and unsubstantive type of journalism.

Reserve Bank governor is also threatening to sue the Standard over a story over his Mercedes Benz story.

Not a very good start for journalists, but we hope that as the year progresses, things will shape up. We are back after a restful holiday to tackle Zimbabwean journalism issues with zest.

Also we will not be running on a daily basis like we did last year as we prepare for the launch of our new product.

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year'S Message From Daniel Molokele

Happy new year to you all.

I wish you a very successful 2007!

Please keep up the good work.
Festive Season Message From Mike Davies

And a happy festive season to you as well

More power to your pens (well, to your keyboards!)


Mike Davies

As we draw a close to what has been for many a very miserable year it gives me great pleasure to predict a glimmer of hope in an otherwise even more
murky prediction for 2007. I am aware that the year 2006, like the previous seven years, was particularly difficult. But you remained resolute in the struggle to express yourselves out of the national crisis. We endured long queues for basic commodities; suffered the indignity of shortages of transport, electricity and fuel; sacrificed our entire savings to enable children to attend schools and witnessed the loss of a loved one through HIV/Aids.

We all know that since independence in 1980, and in particular the last seven years, we have been subjected to the most trying circumstances. Many are without food. We can’t afford to send our children to schools. Hospitals have been turned into avenues of death. An HIV/Aids pandemic is causing havoc, making Zimbabwe a nation with the highest number of orphans in the world.

The challenge facing us today is to devise an effective mechanism to save Zimbabwe from further haemorrhage. Wherever we are, let us commit ourselves in earnest to saving our nation. What can we do individually and collectively to advance the struggle for change, for a new beginning, and for a new Zimbabwe?

As we approach 2007, let us look back and use our experiences to help the people to help themselves and to determine their own destiny, against the numerous odds imposed by Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF dictatorship. Safeguarding our freedom depends on what we are prepared to do, at home and in the Diaspora.

It is quite obvious that we are in for a rough ride into 2007, especially when faced with the consequences of a Zanu PF defend-power project, imposed onto the people after the February 2000 referendum and the June 2000 parliamentary election.

The brutal assault onto the people; declaration of war against the people; the flagrant display of dishonesty, the skewed policies and the propaganda we have been subjected to over the last seven years have hit us hard. Only the dishonest and those politically connected to Zanu PF are surviving the onslaught.
Southern Africa faces a major challenge in 2010. We are hosting the World Cup. International attention shall thus be focused on all of us as a region as we receive visitors, international business and attend to the needs of millions of soccer followers. We cannot afford to be enmeshed in the political emotions associated with elections at a time when the entire focus of humanity shall be on the SADC region through sport.

Fellow Zimbabweans, it is clear that Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF elite have elevated themselves to the position of super-patriots and decided to extend their rule against the national sentiment. Mugabe and Zanu PF rig elections; usurp state institutions for political expediency; beat up Zimbabweans who disagree with the style of governance and destroy a country full of promise.

The decision to extend Mugabe’s term of office, already contested after the 2002 Presidential election, is major slap in the face for all Zimbabweans. We are in a serious dilemma as we have experienced and continue to live with an unprecedented economic meltdown and political uncertainty, all authored by Mugabe and his cronies.

We desire a normal society where decisions that affect the entire nation cannot be a preserve of a political party. All Zimbabweans must discuss and agree on the efficacy of any proposal whose political implications affect the nation at large. Zanu PF has no right to impose its will on all of us.

You are aware that I challenged Mugabe’s legitimacy in 2002 following your mandate. Despite his refusal to open up institutions of state to resolve pertinent concerns arising from the challenge, I wish to thank Zimbabweans for remaining steadfast and committed to the resolution of the national crisis. What Mugabe and Zanu PF have now done is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. We cannot continue to watch Mugabe and his cronies play dangerous games with our lives.

The decision to extend Mugabe’s already controversial tenure shall be resisted. Together with our civil society partners and all democratic forces, we pledge to provide the necessary leadership to deal with this tyranny. We are not going to let this affront on the people’s destiny go unchallenged. We shall consult you and follow your guidance in this crucial matter.

As we enter in one of our bleakest festive seasons and into the New Year, may I assure you of my unwavering commitment to continue the fight for a lasting resolution of the national crisis? What came out of the Zanu PF conference is a major blow to Zimbabwe’s quest for a new beginning and to an end to uncertainty around Zimbabwe’s future.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Message From Our Collegueas At Zimbabwe Journalists.Com

Hi guys

Thanks for writing. You are doing a great job, keep on
keeping on. Don't get distracted by cheap talk. - the most important thing is to push the Zimbabwean
story so that it remains on the minds of the people who matter.

Many thanks.



Friday, December 22, 2006

End Of Year Message From ZimJournalists Arise

ZIMJOURNALISTS ARISE WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK OUR READERS. We started running the blog on August 28 and we have made a number of friends who we hope we will keep in the New Year. Although we might have stepped on a few toes in our short life, such is journalism especially objective journalism. A lecturer at the Harare Polytechnic would often say a response from reader/listener whether good or bad is good because it means there are listening or reading.

Sadly the year ended on a bad note. Besides the usual deteriorating standard of living, Zimbabweans woke up one day to hear that President Mugabe is considering extending his term until 2010. This sent Zimbabweans at home and abroad into despair as people contemplate another four years under his misgovernance. For journalists it means more years of media repression and less professional opportunities. For those squatting around the globe its is four more years of despair and telephone relationships.

However Zimbabwean’s world renowned resilience has kept us going and it will be business as usual next year. The blog hopes to launch a better and new product when it comes back on cyberspace mid January next year. So watch press for details.

It is also unfortunate that the year comes to close with the death of veteran journalists Farai Makotsi and President of the Zimbabwe Freelance Journalist Association Joe Kwaramba. This come at a time when most journalists have been reduced freelancers or forced into other profession just to keep body and soul together. These losses although great should not deter journalists and we hope that the next year, will see more fearless and polished journalism.

So from all of us at ZimJournalists Arise Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Zimbabwe Vigil Intensifies Campaign Against Mugabe Visit To France

The EU is meeting in Feburary next year, to decide on the renewal of sanctions against President Mugabe and his cabinet. Rumour around town is that some European countries want to slacken the sanctions. God Forbid.

Help stop the crumbling of European Union (EU) targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies EU targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime are due to be renewed in February 2007. There are
worrying signs that these are crumbling. We have been advised that the French government (particularly President Chirac) is considering inviting Mugabe to a France / Africa summit in
Cannes in February and that Portugal which takes over the EU Presidency in July wants to invite Mugabe to an AU / EU summit to be held during its Presidency. The Vigil has already sent a letter to the French Embassy asking the new French Ambassador to Zimbabwe to do all he can to stop the French invitation (Vigil epresentatives briefed the Ambassador in September before he took up his appointment). The Vigil has also contacted trade unions in this country asking them to involve French trade unionists in the campaign to prevent Mugabe from being invited. The TUC recently held a protest outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with
Zimbabwean trade unionists after they were so brutally treated for trying to hold a peaceful protest. ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement) is asking
people to lobby their MPs / MEPs to insist that EU
targeted sanction are renewed. Please help by: Lobbying President Chirac of France: attached is a suggested letter to him in French and English - please print the version you prefer to send, insert your address, the date and your signature and post it to President Chirac. We have signed it 'Concerned Zimbabwean' please adapt this
as appropriate to yourself.
This Week's Zimbabwe Media Headlines

Chombo Sues FinGaz For $300 million, But Is Exposed In Yet Another Scandal
This week was an eventful week in the Zimbabwean Media. A dispute seems to be growing between Local Authorities Minister Ignatius Chombo, who is suing the Financial Gazette for $300 million for publishing stories about him in an alleged ZUPCO corruption scandal. The Fingaz then came up with another story entitled “Not Again Minister” implicating him in a CBZ scandal. Observers say this dispute could mirror bad blood between Chombo and Reserve Bank Governor Gideion Gono. Observer add that Gono is said to be considerably be involved with the Financial Gazette, and owing to the fact that the details are emanating from the Reserve Bank and CBZ, maybe something is going on??? Meanwhile daggers have been drawn, with Jonathan Moyo against Dumiso Dabengwa and John Nkomo, while Emmerson Mnangwagwa is suing the Speaker of Parliament For defamation. Now it will be interesting for journo’s to attend these court hearings as these guys tend to sing like larks during testimonies.

Here’s an Excerpt From This Week’s Fingaz
Police are investigating the use to which Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo put $14 billion worth of farm loans obtained from the central bank.
The focus of interest for the Criminal Investigations Department (Serious Fraud) is Chombo’s application, on October 1, 2005, for a $14 billion (old currency) loan from the RBZ. The loan is said to have been availed under the “Other Crops and Livestock Facility” and was disbursed through CBZ Bank.

Charamba Scuttles Muradzikwa ‘s Plans Of New Appoinments

Lydia Mavengere and Ishmael Kadungure who were to be appointed general managers for TV and Radio services, apparently got the thumbs down from presidential WordSmith George Charamba, reports
It seems Muradzikwa is having to go back to the drawing board again. Some of those affected are Robson Mhandu and Tazzen Mandizvidza.

Channel 4 News Crew Deported From Zimbabwe

Now talk about real DRAMA, word around town is that business mogul Nicholas van Hoogstraten's, blew the whistle on Channel Four journalists, who he himself had facilitated to bring in into Zimbabwe. Now a lot of theories and versions are flying around town. The official line says the CIO came across a script, in the four-man news crew’s car. Why the CIO were paying them such close attention is not clear. Another version doing the rounds in Harare’s watering holes is that it was Van Hoogstaten himself who locked the television crew in their rooms and alerted the police. The state-run Herald newspaper alleges that the four man crew’s unceremonious exit was facilitated by the British, who facilitated their escape, through an unnamed neighbouring country. The Herald allege the British journa's were compiling stories that would tarnish(further)the country’s image in preparation for a renwal of EU Sanctions.
Swazi Media Slammed For Neglecting Real Issues

Despite Swaziland's humanitarian crisis, local newspapers are largely ignoring issues such as poverty, food shortages and HIV/AIDS in favour of reports about crime and bickering amongst political personalities, according to The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

MISA's Media Monitoring Project report, 'What makes news, and is the news professionally reported?', funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and released on Wednesday, also found that news stories were largely restricted to covering one area of the country, and poorly reflected gender diversity.

"It is very hard for us to get a story about what is really happening to the Swazi people on the ground in the local media - they just want to report political gossip; the MISA report reflects that," said Thandi Ndwandwe, a public relations officer for a food aid NGO based in the central commercial town of Manzini.


The report surveyed news content during a two-week period in October 2006 and found that national politics dominated content in the country's two daily newspapers, the independent Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer, owned by the royal conglomerate, Tibiyo TakaNgwane.

Most of the stories - 26 percent - covered local politics. The second largest category was crime, the subject of 18 percent of stories. Despite Swaziland having the highest HIV prevalence rate worldwide - about 33.4 percent of sexually active adults are infected - just one percent of stories were devoted to HIV/AIDS.

Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) will constitute 10 percent of the population by 2010, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and their welfare is an escalating crisis in the impoverished country. Nonetheless, OVC and children merited only one percent of stories in the Swazi press.

Judging by local newspaper coverage, Swazis seem to have little interest in the world around them. During the two-week period reviewed, "There were just five stories relating to events outside Swaziland - four from other African countries and one from outside Africa," the report commented. International news was relegated to page seven in both papers, a "world news ghetto", in the words of one Swazi reporter.


The offices of both newspapers are located in the capital, Mbabane, in the northern Hhohho Region, and more than half of all news stories in the two publications originated there.

Humanitarian NGOs have tried different strategies to lure reporters to Swaziland's three other regions, particularly the drought-stricken eastern Lubombo Region and the AIDS-ravished southern Shiselweni Region, to give humanitarian issues a higher profile in the national consciousness: only 5 percent of news stories originated in the Shiselweni Region, and 4 percent from Lubombo Region.

"We try to organise tours to bring journalists to the story. This year we mounted an award for best reporter on a humanitarian story," said Abdoulaye Balde, Country Representative for the UN World Food Programme.

The award would have given the winner an all-expenses paid course in higher journalism, in Johannesburg, South Africa, but so few reporters submitted 'humanitarian' stories - only four local journalists entered the competition - that the awards were scaled back.


Swazi journalism will have to rise above its emphasis on gossip about local personalities - even political stories usually concern attacks by one politician against another, or a politician's scandalous behaviour, rather than substantive reportage on political or governance issues.

The study found that most stories (51 percent) only had one source, breaking a basic rule of journalism that requires at least two sources to ensure balance and accuracy, and safeguard against bias.

MISA deemed 13 articles "unfit reporting", in which "almost half of the violations occurred in stories about child abuse or gender-based violence, where the report failed to protect the victim, and/or trivialised the event".

A notorious example was a news story about an infant found next to the body of his murdered mother, having apparently lain next to the corpse for hours. However, what the reporter and his editors found most fascinating was that during a medical check-up, the baby was found to be a hermaphrodite, possessing both male and female sex organs. This became the focus of the story, to the ire of child welfare groups, who felt the coverage was a sensationalistic violation of the child's privacy.

Women's rights groups complained of poor reporting on gender-based violence, and this was substantiated by the report, which found "the stories that violated principle clearly trivialised child abuse or gender-based violence. In the case of gender-based violence, the stories were often depicted as lovers' tiffs, with no acknowledgement of the criminal nature of the abuse. It was common for the stories to be told through the eyes of the perpetrator, in such a way as to portray him as a victim, without mentioning the illegality of the alleged actions."

The report also found a corresponding absence of women's voices in news reports - female sources were absent in most news stories under review - and in news reporting and editing.


Rudolph Maziya, National Director of the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDS in Africa, an NGO coordinating the response of urban leaders to the pandemic in their towns, felt reporting on HIV/AIDS suffered from subject fatigue. "Both the media and health NGOs have to find creative new ways to tell the story. AIDS has been in Swaziland for almost 20 years, and the story is the same, and will be for some time."

To energise press reporting on humanitarian issues, Maziya felt that media personnel should recognise that they were personally affected. "The media can come to realise that they are not just neutral reporters, but participants. The media houses will come up with their own AIDS programmes, so that when we call reporters to press conferences, they will already be involved as AIDS activists."