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All journalists are used to working in stressful environments - fuming editors wondering why deadlines have been missed, conducting interviews in war zones, the list is endless.
But working in Zimbabwe in the past few years, and especially the past few months, has stretched the meaning of "stress" to new levels.
Long before I was forced to leave Zimbabwe a year ago, many parts of the country had become no-go areas for non-state journalists.
BBC guidelines state clearly: "No story is worth risking your life for".
I am not a hero and wholeheartedly agree.
We had no choice but to speak to those who would speak to us - the farmers and government ministers or war veteran leaders based in Harare.
Then the Information Minister Jonathan Moyo introduced a "non-co-operation" policy.
Only the state-owned media were invited to government news conferences.
When the body of the Congolese President, Laurent Kabila, was brought to Harare a year ago, foreign correspondents were not allowed to cover a major international story.
We stood waiting for hours outside the army barracks where he was lying in state, despite being invited by the Congolese ambassador.
One journalist with the Daily News managed to bluff her way through with an old press card from the state news agency.
But she was soon recognised and was given a military escort back to the front gate.
All requests for government comment or interviews now have to go through Mr Moyo's office.
But he and his officials never answer their phones.
Or if they do, it is only to bark: "Call me back later".
Of course, some ministers do still talk to the foreign and private press.
But even they are now wary of Mr Moyo's influence with President Robert Mugabe and most insist on remaining anonymous.
Protecting the source of information is important everywhere as "whistle-blowers" can face the sack.
But in Zimbabwe, it could spell death.
I only spoke to moderate Zanu-PF officials in person, never on the phone.
Colleagues still in Harare say they now use the state media - The Herald and ZBC radio and television - as their main source of government information.
And this means they are forced to sit through some of the most turgid broadcasting ever produced.
"His Excellency the president, Comrade Robert Mugabe has opened a dam in Mashonaland Central Province... "
"The opposition MDC have been denounced as traitors... "
"A British plot has been uncovered... "
At first, it can be quite amusing in an odd way.
But sitting through an hour of this each evening quickly drives you mad.
Especially when you become the target of the abuse.
"Western journalists have been criticised for giving a negative portrayal of the government... "
I tried to ignore this form of psychological pressure while I was there but after a few months it did start to wear me down.
More recently, six named journalists were called "terrorists" - to be dealt with like the United States was dealing with Taleban.
The on-going political violence provides ample evidence that this threat was very real.
One journalist said that he expected to see a mob of government militants waiting for him outside his house.
They never came but he has changed his daily routine and takes a different route home from his office every day.
Another is concerned that his car may be tampered with, by the feared Central Intelligence Organisation, seeking to liquidate an "enemy of the state".
He takes his car to a different mechanic every time it needs a service.
Difficult as it is now, the government's proposed new measures would make it impossible to work as a journalist.
Publishing stories about cabinet meetings based on ministerial sources - the basis of political reporting the world over - could lead to a prison term.
One media organisation would not be allowed to quote another without permission - so The Herald could not be used as a substitute for government comment.
And journalists accredited with one news organisation could not work for another without the approval of the information ministry.
Mr Moyo is apparently hoping that the "information age" will pass Zimbabwe by.
But the internet and mobile telephones have already swept through Harare and so news will always seep out, whatever laws the government passes.
Why does Zanu PF love to
insult our intelligence? All we ever hear on ZBC news these days is President
Mugabe and the two Zanu PF mercenaries, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Chinamasa's
endless attacks on the MDC, the United States, the United Kingdom and the
What is wrong with Zanu PF?
Don't they get the picture? We are in 2002 and they still think that Zimbabweans
are going to fall for their old tricks. One man cannot claim to be right when
the whole world sees crisis in a country whose citizens are tortured for
expressing the wish to exercise their rights.
What does the US's passing of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill have to do with the land issue in Zimbabwe? The problem is that Zanu PF and its government are arrogantly not respecting the laws of the land, killing innocent people who are looking for nothing else but freedom. The President should be man enough to, please, tell the nation what he has failed to do and he will certainly be respected for that.
Land redistribution will still go on in Zimbabwe without Zanu PF because that's what we fought for. Zimbabweans appreciate that somebody led us through the struggle and conquered, but we are not going to let Mugabe's over-inflated ego ruin people's lives.
I will have to now address the President directly thus:
You have destroyed the Zimbabwean economy! You were the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, but you are now the president of Zanu PF responsible for maintaining power and killing those who are trying to break away from the yoke of poverty that you have tied around their necks.
Your Zanu PF government has lost direction by putting all its efforts on power consolidation. The more arrogant you get, the more resistance you get from the people. How about being a real man and go on and leave what you have failed to do for others to tackle?
The parks and the cities are perfect examples of what's going on in Zimbabwe because nobody cares about their cleanliness anymore. All the attention is being focused on Zanu PF and it determination to remain in power.
For one thing, Zanu PF should not think that they are the God of Zimbabwe, but a mere political party that can be challenged by any other if democracy reigns in this country.
Your tactics of suppressing the local Press and banning the international media by introducing laws of convenience show the panic that's in Zanu PF at the moment. What has really gotten into you, Robert, once the darling of the beautiful Republic of Zimbabwe and the whole wide world? Many have now labelled you one of the worst dictators and it makes all of us who used to admire you feel very sad.
The situation in Zimbabwe has gotten to a stage where people cannot democratically stand for what they believe in because many are losing their lives for merely pointing out that things are not what they ought to be.
Come on, Mr President, you have had the people's respect and I know you don't want to lose that respect. You have to respect what Zimbabweans want and not what Zanu PF wants. If Zanu PF can confront its political allies in a democratic fashion without intimidation and bigotry then they will regain the respect they enjoyed for 17 years. Zanu PF, MDC and/or any other political parties belong to one common name called Zimbabwe and they are for Zimbabweans. It is the duty of every Zimbabwean to choose whoever they want to lead them and not to be forced into following the wrong path.
All Zimbabweans saw the war and we all fought it one way or another and the fact that Zanu PF led us into independence should not be used to blackmail us into accepting that it is the only choice Zimbabweans have.
Most of us are products of Zanu PF, but I think the people of Zimbabwe have had enough and want to move on. I personally suffered as a result of colonialism. However, we are now at a stage where those who led us through the struggle have lost their vision and need to retire.