|November 30, 2001
ZIMBABWE: SAs president Mbeki warnes of potential civil conflict
South African President Thabo Mbeki on November 29 said regional countries
and the Commonwealth should act urgently" to encourage free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe next year. He said committees set up by the Commonwealth
and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should work on ensuring
democratic conditions in Zimbabwe's presidential poll. Zimbabwe's government
has been widely criticised for clamping down on the press and judiciary, and
for pursuing controversial land reforms that have led to violence and
lawlessness on white-owned farms.
The president also said a joint committee comprising Zimbabwe's ruling
ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should be
formed to ensure satisfaction with the election results. "Our view is that if
elections in Zimbabwe are not seen as legitimate, you'll probably end up with a
situation worse than now," Mbeki said. During a meeting with the World
Association of Newspapers on Nov 27, Mbeki warned of potential civil conflict
in Zimbabwe if the vote were not fair.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe government has approved a new bill that will
effectively bar foreign journalists from operating in the country, the
state-run daily, The Herald, reported. Only Zimbabwe's citizens will be allowed
to operate as correspondents for foreign media, if the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Bill is passed by parliament. But the setting up of
foreign media organisations will only be done with the permission of the
minister of information, according to the daily. It was impossible to obtain
confirmation of the report in the state-owned paper from the government.
This means all foreign journalists will need to be Zimbabwean citizens,"
the Herald said. Under the new law a media and information commission which
will register and accredit all journalists, will be set up.
The commission will have powers to discipline journalists for misconduct.
Journalists will be issued with registration certificates. "The commission may
delete a journalist's name from the register, order his suspension for a
specified period and impose conditions it deems fit subject to which he shall
be allowed to practise," the state paper said. (THE NAMIBIAN / MAIL &