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Civil society should stand up to govt

ZIMBABWE has a very strong civil society sector, yet except for Misa, the NCA, Crisis Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, very few others have cared to challenge the sustained assault on, and erosion of the precious few rights

we enjoy.

The action against the Mail & Guardian last week is an extension of that taken against foreign news correspondents and local newspapers such as the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and The Tribune.

The raid on the Mail & Guardian bank account is the first step in seeking a stop to the newspaper’s circulation in Zimbabwe. I therefore do not understand whether the silence by civil society organisations suggests that they prefer a situation where only state-run newspapers are the mirrors of our society.

We know of their superlative efforts at distorting reality and our condition. I can’t imagine a more insidious threat to our freedom of expression as well as to the right to receive and impart information.

If our silent civil society organisations believe the action against the M&G will stop or end there, then they need to reflect on who ever believed the action against Joseph Winter (BBC), Colin Blair (The Telegraph) and Mercedes Sayagues (M&G) would end with expulsions.

The ultimate targets are the publishers of the Independent and the Standard.

The “fishing expedition”, as the M&G publisher Trevor Ncube rightly describes it, has the intention of ferreting out something – anything that will stick against the Independent and the Standard before the Media and Information Commission pronounces the closure of the papers, depriving Zimbabweans of an alternative news source ahead of next year’s parliamentary election.

It is for this reason that civil society organisations need to meet and consider this threat. It is time to tell the authorities: “Zvakwana, we have had enough abuse!” If we don’t, we have none but ourselves to blame.

Tirivanhu Mhofu,


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