THE South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) said it was alarmed to note Zimbabwe’s government had failed to lift all restrictions on journalists and media, especially foreign media. <
In a statement released on the eve of the 2005 legislative elections in Zimbabwe, the editors’ forum said the government, by barring many foreign news organisations, had not demonstrated a full commitment to the free flow of information required during elections.
“While it appears that South African journalists have now all gained accreditation to cover the elections from inside the country, it is clear that the Zimbabwean government, by barring many foreign news organisations, has not demonstrated a full commitment to the free flow of information concerning the elections, Sanef said.
“These actions do not bode well for free and fair parliamentary elections,” Sanef said. The editors said that the “Burma syndrome” — meant to prevent news from reaching the outside world — still infects Zimbabwe. Sanef also noted that the Zimbabwean independent media and correspondents based in the country continued to face harassment which had impacted on their ability to cover the election without hindrance.
In addition, the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Holdings, had not effectively opened up the airwaves to opposition parties as the Zimbabwean government pledged in the Sadc guidelines for free and fair elections.
Monitoring agencies, Sanef said, report that the ruling Zanu PF still enjoyed a disproportionate amount of airtime across public television and radio.
“All of this has meant that the media playing field remained skewed for the election campaign and suggests there is a lot of post-election work to do to ensure a free and fair media in Zimbabwe in the future,” Sanef said.