Zimbabwe's Independent Media Tell It Like It Is
As the government of Zimbabwe grows more authoritarian,the country's independent media organizations are not backing down.
The southern African nation held senatorial elections yesterday marked by low turnout and a strong showing by the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe. As one pro-government news site proclaims a "stupendous victory" for Mugabe, two other leading news sites defy the government with a different message -- the country is corrupt and collapsing.
The Independent's Bill Saidi says the government's anti-corruption office must delve deep into the Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to root out officials who consume "sumptuous dinners whose total cost would probably have built an entire school in one rural area." Saidi is a former editor at the Daily News on Sunday, an independent newspaper that was shut down by the Zimbabwe government in 2003.
Another Independent columnist, noting that the national airline ran out of fuel last week and had to cancel flights, says the decline of Air Zimbabwe is an "emblematic failure" of the Mugabe government.
"When a system crumbles," say the editors of the Financial Gazette, "the least anyone remembers are the rights of the common people even though it is the attitude towards these people that should be the criterion used to judge how moral or immoral a policy is.
"And so it has come to pass in Harare . . . Things have fallen apart in the capital city ... [w]hat with rivers of raw sewage spilling from antiquated drainage and sewerage facilities, biting shortages of piped water and mountains of uncollected refuse! . . . Already, people are reportedly dropping like flies from diseases such as dysentery and cholera, an issue over which the city fathers wanted the veil drawn. The city has indeed been plunged into unprecedented crisis mainly due to ZANU PF's brutal lust for control, lack of forward planning and upside-down priorities."
But the editors of the pro-government Herald see progress, saying Mugabe's party "has regenerated itself."
"No one can deny Zanu-PF its stupendous victory," they say. Those who seek to replace Mugabe's government, they suggest, are merely the tools of Western imperialism. "The dream of some foreign countries that they can manipulate 'regime change" is just that: a dream."
Vincent Kahiya, the editor of the Independent, has another view: "We have a professional obligation to tell the story of Zimbabwe from differing viewpoints and this does not include fawning treatment of any individual or grouping."
washingtonpost.com's Kevin Dumouchelle provided research for this post.
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