|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
770 commuter omnibus operators arrested, fined
BULAWAYO -- About 200 people expelled to rural areas under the government’s controversial urban clean-up campaign have flocked back to squatter camps near Bulawayo city because there is no food in the villages.
Church leaders in Zimbabwe’s second largest city on Tuesday said dozens of families forcibly evicted by the government from Killarney and Ngozi Mine squatter camps, just outside Bulawayo, were back at the sites rebuilding their destroyed shacks.
A spokesman of Churches in Bulawayo (CIB), grouping together several religious organisations helping the displaced people, predicted many of the people evicted from shantytown homes and city backyard cottages would return to the city in the coming days.
“At the moment, about 200 people are back in these camps (Ngozi and Killarney) but the number is likely to rise as we continue to get reports of people literally struggling to make ends meet in the rural areas,” the CIB official Paterson Netha, said.
He added: “Those that we have spoken to say there is no food where they had been resettled. Others say local chiefs met them with a hostile attitude.”
The church official urged the government to abandon rhetoric and appeal to the international community for food aid for the displaced people.
According to United Nations envoy Anna Tibaijuka, at least 700 000 people were left homeless and without food or income after the government destroyed thousands of homes and informal business kiosks in a campaign President Robert Mugabe has said was necessary to smash crime and restore the beauty of Zimbabwe’s cities and towns.
Tibaijuka said another 2.4 million people were also affected by the clean-up campaign codenamed Operation Murmbatsvina (Operation Drive out Filth) by the state.
The UN envoy, who said the government exercise may have violated international law, said it had also worsened the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe where four million people or a third of the country’s population were already facing starvation after a poor harvest last farming season.
The Harare administration has complicated the hunger situation by placing obstacles to outside help for the victims of its clean-up exercise. More than 30 tonnes of food donated by the South African Council of Churches took more than a month before the food could be handed over to hungry people because the authorities would not timeously clear the aid.
Mugabe, who earlier this week criticised the United States for focusing on the Zimbabwe home demolitions while neglecting its own victims of Hurricane Katrina in the US Gulf Coast, has also blocked efforts by the UN to raise US$30 million worth of aid for victims of the clean-up campaign.
But the UN is expected to send a top official to Harare in the coming weeks to negotiate with Mugabe’s government to let in humanitarian aid from the world body. - ZimOnline
|HARARE – The Zimbabwe dollar on Tuesday lost heavily
against the United States dollar on the country’s foreign currency parallel
market as the hard cash-spinning tobacco auction season came to a close on a
The parallel market, thriving on the back of deepening forex shortages, is illegal but remains the only reliable source of hard cash in the troubled southern African nation.
The embattled dollar shed 18 percent to trade at $65 000 to the greenback while it sold for marginally above $26 000 on the official market which as usual was dry of hard cash.
The gap between official and parallel market rates has continued to widen on the back of rising demand for hard cash amid declining output in foreign currency-earning products.
For example, the tobacco selling season, which normally brings relief to the forex-starved Zimbabweans, came to a close yesterday after 116 days of trade and with only 70 kilogrammes of tobacco worth US$114 million sold.
The tobacco auction floors shall however re-open for mop-up sales later in the year. But data from the floors showed that the 2005 season was just 1.5 percent above the 2004 selling season when a 69 million kg valued at US$137 million were sold.
This year's earnings were 17 percent less than last year due to the poor quality of leaf which fetched less on the market.
Meanwhile, a 30 percent decline in tobacco seed sales ahead of the 2005/2006 season is a sure sign output will plummet further.
Shortages of seedbed chemicals, fertilisers, tractive power, fuel and oils and the availability of cost-effective coal were other obstacles to increased tobacco production next year.
Production in Zimbabwe’s mainstay agriculture sector has dramatically dropped since President Robert Mugabe began seizing land from white farmers five years ago. - ZimOnline
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s top official in charge of land redistribution on Tuesday said Harare would now disregard bilateral agreements protecting foreign-owned property to seize all land owned by foreigners in a fresh “faster-track” land reform exercise.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who also oversees land reform and food aid distribution, said most of the land still not in the hands of the government was owned by mostly white foreigners.
Harare will repossess land from foreigners, in disregard of agreements with other governments protecting their nationals’ investments in Zimbabwe, Mutasa told ZimOnline.
He said: "Most of the land not in our hands is under the ownership of foreigners. Most of them are white so why should we do them any favours?
“We will now move to disregard any bilateral agreements and take over those farms because the owners are absentee landlords anyway. We are now in a mode called ‘faster-track’ land reform."
No new laws will be enacted to empower the government to seize foreign-owned land after President Robert Mugabe earlier this month signed into law constitutional amendments giving his administration sweeping powers to grab land and bar owners from contesting in court seizure of their land by the state.
The planned land seizures, which Mutasa said would affect all foreign land owners regardless of their country of origin, are most likely to anger regional powerhouse South Africa which repeatedly assured its nationals owning land in Zimbabwe that their property was protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Harare.
“We are blind to nationality. What we just want is enough land for Zimbabweans,” said Mutasa, who has already visited Masvingo and Manicaland provinces and is set to visit remaining provinces to tell governors and administrators to speed up seizure of farmland still outside state hands, including that owned by foreigners.
South Africa, which is Mugabe’s most important regional ally, does not agree with the veteran leader’s land redistribution method but has refused to publicly condemn the land seizures.
Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages for the last five years which are largely blamed on Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent seizure of productive land for redistribution to landless blacks. Mugabe denies his farm seizure programme caused food shortages instead blaming poor weather. - ZimOnline
|KAROI – Police on Tuesday arrested a newly resettled
farmer in Karoi town 204km north-west of Harare after he fatally assaulted a man
for allegedly stealing his maize.|
The farmer, Tendaupenyu Nyahoda, is expected to appear in court soon to face a murder charge.
Sources in the small farming town of Karoi said yesterday that Nyahoda severely assaulted the deceased Choice Nyamasunzu, who was part of a three-man gang, after they were caught stealing three buckets of shelled maize.
Nyamasunzu is said to have died of his injuries after the severe assault. His other two colleagues, Vheka Tafirei and Knowledge Kapesa are still recuperating at Karoi hospital in the town.
Police spokesperson for the area Chief Superintendent John Masuka confirmed the incident saying: “We have arrested a farmer in connection with the murder and he will appear in court soon."
One of the assaulted suspects, Kapesa, who is still recuperating at Karoi hospital after the assault, said they had been driven by hunger to steal.
“I had to go there because I needed to feed my wife and brother,” said Kapesa.
At least four million Zimbabweans are facing starvation after President Robert Mugabe disrupted the key agricultural sector five years ago through his violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms. Mugabe denies the charge blaming the country’s food shortages on drought.
The Zimbabwean leader at the weekend insisted that there were no food shortages in the country saying his people “were very, very happy.” – ZimOnline
|HARARE — British-based property baron Nicholas van
Hoogstraten continues to increase his stranglehold on the tottering Zimbabwean
economy amid revelations that he now controls a large chunk of shares in one of
the country’s biggest agro-industrial firms, CFI Limited.|
A close ally of President Robert Mugabe, van Hoogstraten now owns about 7 percent of the export-oriented CFI Limited through his United Kingdom-based Messina Investments. That makes him the second largest shareholder after SMM Holdings, which controls almost 40 percent of the Harare-based CFI.
According to stockbrokers, the British businessman controls more than 34 million shares or 6.97 percent of CFI. The shares have been acquired during the past few months as van Hoogstraten tries to wrestle control of key economic sectors.
“It looks like he is using his links to the political establishment and the economic crisis in the country to establish himself as a dominant business force here,” a stockbroker told Zimonline yesterday.
Van Hoogstraten was in the news a few months ago after he again snapped huge chunks of shares to become the single largest shareholder in NMB Bank Limited and Hwange Colliery. He controls 32 percent of coal producer Hwange and about 20 percent of the up-market NMB.
A businessman who once described Mugabe as “100 percent decent and incorruptible”, van Hoogstraten has courted controversy in the past due to his open support for the Harare authorities.
For his support of the Mugabe regime, his farm has been spared from the land grab that affected thousands of other white landowners. - ZimOnline
|HARARE – Three months after their shanty homes and
backyard cottages were razed down in a ruthless government urban clean-up
campaign, residents of Harare are still battling to come to terms with the sheer
amount of rubble left behind by the military-style operation.|
Walking through many of the capital’s low-income suburbs, hardest hit by the controversial urban renewal exercise, one would be forgiven for thinking they were walking through America’s New Orleans city after Hurricane Katrina.
For example, at one spot in Harare’s oldest suburb of Mbare an assortment of grey cement bricks and pieces of broken furniture rises to as high as two metres.
But one’s eye is quickly drawn away from the brick and broken wood “monument” to a “mountain” of rotten garbage of what used to be an informal vegetable market that was knocked down by government bulldozers.
To many here, the rubble and rubbish rotting in the open is a constant reminder of how in one stroke the government wrecked apart their lives when it destroyed their homes and informal business kiosks in a campaign that the United Nations says cast at least 700 000 people onto the streets without shelter, food or income.
But to many others, the rubble is also a reminder that the objective of the government exercise was never really to clean up cities and towns.
“Otherwise if the government and municipality were serious about cleaning up, then we would not be having all this rubbish piled up for over three months now,” an elderly-looking Esnath Phiri from Mbare’s Beatrice Cottages section said with a sweeping wave at the garbage heap.
Phiri is not alone in seeing an “unholy ulterior motive” in the clean-up exercise that was condemned by the UN, Western governments, local and international human rights groups as a gross violation of poor people’s rights.
President Robert Mugabe has defended the clean-up exercise as necessary to smash crime and an illegal black market that was thriving among informal traders. The campaign was also critical to restoring the beauty of Zimbabwe’s cities and towns, the veteran leader insists.
But ask the next man or woman on the streets of Harare or any of Zimbabwe’s cities and with all the conviction they can muster, they will tell you that the clean-up exercise was merely a pretext to punish urban residents for rejecting Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in last March’s disputed general election.
This strongly held perception is by no small measure also because the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which enjoys more support in urban areas, has publicly claimed the government exercise was a vengeful campaign against its supporters.
Mugabe’s ZANU PF party won a landslide victory in the election, garnering 78 out of the 120 contested parliamentary seats against the MDC’s 41.
The ruling party however dismally lost in Harare and other major cities such as Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Chitungwiza and Masvingo where the MDC virtually swept all the seats in the six cities where the government’s clean-up campaign was harshest.
The government rejects claims it destroyed homes in urban areas to punish residents for voting for the MDC.
To prove the campaign was not selective, government officials often cite the case of Whitecliff Farm settlement on Harare’s south-western border where police bulldozers razed down homes belonging to veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war who are known to support Mugabe and ZANU PF.
And more important, according to a massive propaganda campaign directed by the mandarins at the state information desk, the government has a fresh campaign cynically code-named “Operation Garikai” (Stay well) to build homes for all who were left without shelter by Operation Murambatsvina (Clean-Up).
This is despite the fact that the government is virtually broke and does not have enough money to build houses for the 700 000 homeless people.
At Harare’s Town House administrative headquarters, one is however quickly disabused of any notion that the authorities out of remorse will somehow find the resources to clean up the rubble and even do more by building houses for people whose homes they destroyed.
Here one comes face to face with that same cold arrogance that characterised the home demolition campaign.
For example, this is how Harare city council spokesman Leslie Gwindi curtly explained the municipality’s solution to the rubble problem: “Where we find that people have not been creative in removing rubble, we have fines.”
Tell this to Boniface Mangwiro, another Mbare resident, and he is left even more convinced there was more to Murambatsvina than merely cleaning up the neighbourhood.
He explains: “The city council should have removed the rubble as quickly as they ordered the destruction of the buildings. They cannot expect us poor property owners to hire trucks to remove this especially with the current fuel shortages. We cannot afford it.” - ZimOnline
|HARARE – A bright morning sun cut a shining path across
the clear sky. Its soft rays picked out a queue of vehicles parked
“bumper-to-bumper”, as Zimbabwe’s fuel-starved drivers would put it.|
It was still very early on a Tuesday morning. But there were already several hundred vehicles of all makes from the latest Mercedes Benz and BMW 4 x 4 sport utility vehicles to the old and creaky French-made Peugeot jalopies, once Zimbabwe’s first choice public taxis a few years ago.
The queue of vehicles snaked along from the entrance to the garage along the busy Samora Machel Avenue, wriggled past a dirty cluster of buildings and kept going for several hundred metres. It was literally growing by the minute.
Welcome to Wedzera Service Station, a few kilometres outside central Harare and one of only a handful of garages with special permission to sell scarce fuel in hard currency.
We had set out very early, several hours before daybreak, on assignment to gauge the extent of Zimbabwe’s fuel troubles that began after the International Monetary Fund withdrew financial assistance to the country six years ago and have worsened in recent months.
After checking out several garages, including some owned by senior politicians of President Robert Mugabe’s government but all which did not have fuel, we ended at Wedzera which by the look of things seemed the only one selling fuel in town.
We must have been more than a hundred cars away from the pumps when we joined the queue at around 8 o’clock in the morning. But the queue was moving at a surprisingly brisk pace.
“At this rate by midday, we will have filled up our cars,” optimistically predicted, Samson Chirunga, the old man we befriended on the queue.
For several hours it looked like Chirunga was right, until the garage supervisor appeared just as the hour hand stroke 12.
“We have no more petrol or diesel,” the supervisor announced. His cold and casual demeanor giving the impression he was so used to disappointing motorists with these sort of announcements.
“We expect more supplies before the end of the day,” he said, apparently uninterested whether his audience believed it or not.
By 6pm, still no fuel had been delivered to the garage. We kept waiting. In fact, the queue kept growing with more cars pulling up despite the fact that there was no fuel at the garage and no one knew when exactly it would be available – it can get that desperate for Zimbabwe’s long suffering motorists.
Finally, just before midnight, a fuel tanker pulled up to replenish the stocks. That however did not mean immediate respite for the waiting motorists because there was no one to serve us since the fuel attendants had knocked off about fours hours earlier at 8pm.
We had to endure the long night by the garage!
At 7.30am on the dot, when the garage opens for business, the jostling began as we moved “bumper-to-bumper” to the pumps, all the while holding one’s breath that yesterday’s misfortune when the pumps ran dry before we had our turn to fill up would not be repeated.
We entered the garage courtyard by 10am and thirty minutes later, we handed in our fuel coupons to have our 60-litre car filled up at US$1 per litre – and what a relief!
As we drove off past the long queue of hundreds of cars waiting their turn to refill, one could not help but wonder at the irony of it all.
Zimbabwe’s deepening fuel crisis was itself a result of an acute shortage of foreign currency. Apart from fuel, food, essential medical drugs, electricity, machine spares for industry and almost every other basic commodity is in critical short supply in the country because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.
Mugabe and his government may not have any foreign currency reserves to speak of. But clearly, ordinary Zimbabweans are awash with foreign currency if the near-stampede to pay US dollars for fuel at Wedzera is anything to go by. - ZimOnline
|Iden Wetherell's opinion piece "Where is the yellow
card?" in the Mail and Guardian (3 September) cannot go unanswered. It is argued
that we should have given the Mugabe regime a yellow card prior to making the
collective decision to suspend participation in all elections pending its
compliance with the principles agreed to by SADC in Mauritius. We disagree;
countless yellow cards have long since been issued. |
Since the June 2000 parliamentary elections the MDC has used the courts to expose flaws in Zimbabwe's electoral system. In parliament the MDC caucus has, for the past four years, done all in its power to urge the ruling party to support the need for legislative and constitutional reforms aimed at restoring the integrity of the electoral process. This fell on deaf ears. Similarly, in the aftermath of the disputed March 2002 Presidential election, the recommendations contained in the reports compiled by the South African Observer Mission, the Commonwealth Observer Mission and the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which called for urgent reforms to restore transparency and fairness in the electoral process, fell on deaf ears. These were symbolic yellow cards issued by the international community yet the regime opted to bury its head in the sand. The clear lack of political will on the government's part to take the necessary steps to restore genuine democratic elections in Zimbabwe prompted the MDC, earlier this year, to publish its document entitled 'Restore', containing the party's minimum standards for elections. The party made it clear to the regime that its participation in the March 2005 parliamentary elections was conditional on the government's satisfactorily implementing these minimum standards. In the absence of these fundamental benchmarks, the MDC concluded, it would be inadvertently legitimising another flawed election by participating under the current conditions. This would be a betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe who fought a liberation war to gain the basic right to freely choose a government of their choice in a free and fair election and thereby influence the type of society in which they wish to live.
"Restore", not only sets out the political reforms necessary to create the democratic conditions for a legitimate poll but also sets
out the electoral reforms necessary to create a legal, institutional and administrative electoral framework that harnesses transparency and fairness. Since the publication of "Restore" the MDC has conducted a vigorous campaign both inside the country and within the region to bring pressure to bear on the regime to implement the MDC's minimum standards. On 20th July, Mugabe, in his speech marking the opening of parliament, announced that a number of electoral reforms would be introduced that would level the electoral playing field. Mugabe and Zanu PF disingenuously claimed that these reforms
(which include the establishment of a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the reduction of polling days from two days to one and the counting of votes at polling stations) would address the MDC's demands. As we said at the time, these proposed reforms only partly address our minimum standards pertaining to improving the transparency and fairness of procedures governing the polling day. On the whole they are woefully inadequate and fail to even touch on the crucial issue of opening up the political space and ending political violence. What the ruling party's proposals clearly demonstrate is that they view an election as an event as opposed to a process.
It is this politically expedient definition of what constitutes an election that received an unequivocal "yellow card" in Mauritius.
The comprehensive set of guidelines and principles that were agreed upon in Mauritius captured the essential elements of "Restore", in particular the recognition that a free and fair election is not possible when the political space has been all but closed down. This was a symbolic victory for the MDC. When Mugabe signed the protocol he was technically committing himself to implementing the MDC's minimum standards. In theory at last, our "yellow card" in the form of "Restore" produced a very positive result indeed. The reality, however is different. In the immediate aftermath of his return from Mauritius, Mugabe and his regime quashed any hopes that they would act in the spirit and letter of the agreement by gazetting a draft NGO bill containing provisions which continue the government's sustained determination to crush all organised centres of opinion opposed to the regime. This for the MDC was the final straw. In the absence of any evidence that the government intends to comply in
full with the SADC elections charter the MDC decided to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. With less than 7 months until the elections there is insufficient time to wave any more yellow cards. Moreover, the timing of our decision was also influenced by the fact that nomination day for a by-election was due on September 3 and we had to make a decision prior to that day. Had we not made a decision before that day the region could have assumed that we believed that the Mauritius principles were in the process of being implemented in Zimbabwe.
The timing also has to be seen in the context of what has been stated in the region about the issue of negotiations between Zanu PF and MDC. For over a year we have been told that we are engaged in informal negotiations with Zanu PF when that is not true. A real fear we had was that Zanu PF's compliance, or rather non compliance, with the Mauritius principles would be fudged, as would our "acceptance" that Zimbabwe's electoral system now complied with the Mauritius principles. We had to make it clear, emphatically, urgently and unequivocally, that our electoral system does not, and will not, even in the event of Mugabe's proposed changes being implemented, comply with the Mauritius principles. Aidan Wetherell's article suggests that we should have used the next few months to prove that Zimbabwe's electoral environment does not comply with the
Mauritius principles. That however is precisely what the Mugabe regime wants us to do. It would, no doubt, be happy to implement meaningful reforms a month prior to the elections which would not result in a free and fair election. Zimbabweans have been deeply traumatised during the last 5 years and need a peaceful period of at least 6 months prior to the elections to feel confident to exercise their vote meaningfully. For all the government's claims that the MDC is dead and that they can run an election without us, Zanu PF can never claim legitimacy unless the MDC participates. Whilst the MDC could have been ignored in 2000 it is now recognised regionally and internationally as a credible political party and to that extent its participation in the 2005 election is critical to both Zanu PF and SADC if Zimbabwe's crisis is to be resolved.
To that extent it was critically important that we indicated to SADC as soon as possible that we were not prepared to participate in this charade any longer and that they should bring the Mugabe regime to book as quickly as possible to resolve the crisis. The onus is now on SADC to ensure that the Mugabe regime fully complies with its obligations under SADC elections' protocol. A failure to do so would put SADC's credibility on the line. It is suggested that what is required is for the MDC to test the water. That precisely is what we will be doing. We will be testing the regime's sincerity in the course of the next few months in Parliament, in the courts and in the media. At every turn we intend explaining to the Zimbabwean
electorate and SADC why it is that the NGO bill, Zanu PF's proposed reforms, and existing draconian legislation that severely curtails our fundamental rights are wholly incompatible with the Mauritius principles. Finally, Wetherell's article suggests that we are somehow disengaging from the political discourse. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are suspending our involvement in the electoral process pending Zimbabwe's compliance with the Mauritius principles. That is very different to suspending our involvement in the political process. We are actively identifying candidates for the 2005 parliamentary election. We will be vigorously participating in Parliament and organizing our structures in anticipation of the Mugabe regime being forced to comply fully with these wonderful new SADC standards.
David Coltart is the MDC's secretary for Legal Affairs and Shadow Justice Minister
|Assuming there was a Nobel Prize for hypocrisy and
arrogance, Prof. Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwe Minister of State for Information
and Publicity in the Office of the President would qualify with a distinction.
He deserves the biscuit for abandoning his earlier crusade as an opponent of
government's propensity to stifle media freedom. |
In his yesteryears as an academic, Prof. Moyo accused the government-controlled media of failing the nation. "Their brief is to report ZANU PF affairs as if the ruling party is greater than the nation" Prof. Moyo wrote in the then privately owned Financial Gazette in 1992, adding that this journalistic docility sometimes took on disgusting proportions, "as when the media reports whatever Mr. Mugabe says and wherever he says it without analyzing its contents. Presumably, this is in keeping with the ZANU PF doctrine of presidential infallibility," he lamented.
The paradigm has changed for Prof. Moyo. His new pre-occupation with ZANU (PF) is like reading Dr. Faust's classic tale about the highly intelligent professor who signs a pact with the devil in return for infinite wisdom and power; more like doing a bad thing for a good reason.
First, he surprised many by joining ZANU (PF), the party he once denounced as authoritarian and for this bold move, Prof Moyo was rewarded. Today, he is ZANU (PF)'s information and publicity secretary, a presidential appointee to parliament and government minister solely responsible for policy and regulation of all media in Zimbabwe.
Ironically, in his short term as a minister, Prof. Moyo has authored media laws considered by many commentators as the most repressive in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe. A case in point is the enactment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), without any broad consultation with the 'nation'. AAIPA was an offer that the majority of freedom loving journalists in Zimbabwe couldn't possibly accept and for this the scribes are paying a heavy prize. AAIPA has put more and more journalists in prison, a great number of them for crimes related to their professional livelihood. The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) reports that more than thirty- (30) journalists were detained or charged from January 2003 to date, for contravening sections of AAIPA. This is intriguing, given Prof Moyo's well documented past as a 'freedom loving academic'. His turn-around logic translates to a 'Thank you very much. It was important that you were mobilized then, but now that l am in power on your behalf, you either shut-up or face-up".
According to MISA-Zimbabwe, AAIPA does not provide the public with access to any real and relevant information. "In reality the Act's purpose is protecting the institution of the government from scrutiny by prohibiting and heavily penalizing public/media inquiry and scrutiny into its affairs, and in addition by an unrestrained control over journalists and media companies", argues MISA.
Prof Moyo posits that unless the police and courts aggressively crack down what they term 'anti-government press', social cohesion would degenerate into anarchy. He argues that even the constitutionally contested legal provisions such as journalists not registering with the MIC, contribute to an anything goes atmosphere in which serious social disobedience would proliferate.
In all Prof. Moyo has said or done, he has claimed adherence to the treasured philosophy of 'public or national interest'. However, it is precisely his definition of what is in the public interest that is contested.
Further, Prof. Moyo has positioned himself as the embodiment of the nation or the public's negotiator, who represents the nation's interests, our interests. But who really should define for media operators and journalists what is in the public or national interest? In the case of Zimbabwe, Prof. Moyo has claimed the right to singularly define the national or public interest. He then expects the media to uphold his definition without question. This attitude confirms the most lurid of scare stories about party functionaries running out of control. Sadly for Prof. Moyo, it has been hard to find Zimbabweans who do not see AAIPA as a repressive legislation that is either undesirable or unjust. What is worse is that several prominent ZANUPF supporters, recognizing that AAIPA threatens the sustainability of their own media enterprises, the party and government, are slowly distancing themselves from Prof. Moyo's position.
Certainly, hope is not all lost. First, if in the past, Prof. Moyo was able to change his mind, he can do it again. Second, much as lasting damage has been inflicted to Zimbabwe's reputation as a thriving democracy, it seems there has not been much success in destroying the hopes of all freedom and peace-loving journalists who now realize that defending the public or national interests may mean challenging the government and public officials of the day. That is precisely what Prof. Jonathan Moyo did in his past life.