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February 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
War on the Opposition
World Press Review Correspondent
As the United
States and its allies intensify their crackdown on terrorism
following the Sept. 11 attacks, Zimbabwe is waging its own war
on terrorism. The Nov. 5 killing of Cain Nkala, the war veterans
leader in Bulawayo in southwestern Zimbabwe, ignited a political
powder keg. Nkala had been strangled and his body dumped in
a shallow grave near Bulawayo.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been
blamed for the murder and has had several of its members locked
up on murder and terrorism charges. The ongoing foreign-sponsored
political thuggery that has raised its ugly head should not
be allowed to go on unchecked. We would like to urge the government
to use the state security machinery to deal with these acts
of terrorism before they get out of hand, the government-owned
Chronicle (Nov. 28) commented.
But is there any worse terrorism than political emasculation,
the opposition press asked, noting government efforts to use
the Nkala killing to silence opponents, boost its land reform
program, and energize its flagging support base ahead of next
years presidential elections? The government is
uncertain of its prospects of winning next years presidential
race, said the opposition Daily News (Nov. 20).
In the long term, the threatened crackdown will not work,
although in the immediate, it will buy the ruling party and
its government relief by removing competition from the contest.
In November, the government passed the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Bill, which will bar foreign journalists
from working in Zimbabwe, license local journalists, and hand
down stiff penalties to those whose writing is viewed as disruptive.
The Zimbabwe government must obviously have a lot it wishes
to hidecorrupt activities, for instanceotherwise
it would not have crafted the obnoxious...bill, remarked
the Daily News (Dec. 4).
Government will use the law to bring to book MDC terrorists
and their media supporters without fear or favor. No terrorist
or terrorist sponsor will find comfort in Zimbabwe. The use
of the media, whether local or international, will not suffice
as a cover for terrorism, declared government spin-doctor
Jonathan Moyo in the official Sunday Mail (Nov. 25).
As Zimbabweans start a new year, the presidential polls are
on the minds of the fortunate few who may eventually speak through
the ballot. A letter to the editor published in the Zimbabwe
Independent (Nov. 23) asked if Zimbabwe was a nation of
masochists. The answer will be in that box with a small slit
for a ballot paper.