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Swedish envoy denies claim

Itai Mushekwe

SWEDISH ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander yesterday castigated the state media’s tendencies to peddle propaganda as news, saying he had been misquoted on the sanctions issue again.

=justify>The Sunday News and Sunday Mail last weekend reported Rylander as saying sanctions should be lifted immediately “because they are hurting the ordinary people and not serving any purpose”.

The diplomat denied ever calling for the EU to lift sanctions arguing that his statements had been deliberately “distorted”.

“I’m very concerned about these distortions,” said Rylander. “It’s not helping in building the confidence with the international community which Zimbabwe requires. I’m concerned that the state media is ruining confidence.”

Rylander appears to have unwittingly played into Zanu PF’s hands.

His reported comments have been used by the state media to suggest a rift within the EU on what is called its “common position” on Zimbabwe.

The EU’s targeted sanctions prevent President Mugabe and his lieutenants from travelling to Europe or setting up business ventures in the 25 countries forming the bloc. Mugabe blames the sanctions for the current economic meltdown which has pushed inflation to 782% – the highest in the world.

Rylander said the state media had failed to adhere to basic principles of media ethics and professionalism, which was self-defeating since it was crucial for the country to convey the correct message to well-wishers who want to help.

“We don’t need distortions by the media,” he said. “This does not help in building confidence, especially in Zimbabwe’s current predicament.

“The state media is not getting it right. In this media field one needs to be ethical and professional. It is also important to have an independent media and freedom of expression,” he said.

“However, I’m not going to refuse to talk to them.”

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