Editorial 01 (11-01-07)

When is a Zimbabwean not a Zimbabwean?
Johannesburg-based newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube is the latest in a long line of Zimbabweans to be caught in the sticky and convoluted web of the Mugabe regime's tangled and self-serving legislation.
Law and order no longer exist in Zimbabwe. And ye

t the government continues to perform mental gymnastics of remarkable complexity in an absurd attempt to legislate the gross abuse of human rights and legalise criminal behaviour – as long as it is perpetrated only by those in power.
What is happening to Ncube is nothing but a carefully orchestrated plan by government to harass independent journalists in a futile effort to control the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans.
Faced with unprecedented shortages resulting from the collapse of the economy and increased human rights abuses – necessitated by the need to subdue an angry and restless people – the government is desperate to silence any criticism, and to deny the opposition any opportunity to communicate effectively with the populace through the mass media.
As rumblings of discontent even within Zanu (PF) grow louder, the various factions shadow-box themselves into position to mount a serious challenge for succession to Mugabe’s throne. It is obvious to everyone that his days are numbered.
Ncube’s publications, The Independent and The Standard, are the only locally-based independent newspapers remaining in Zimbabwe. Instead of just banning or bombing them, it is fascinating in a sense to observe the Mugabe regime’s convoluted, a, efforts to shut them down or take them over.
Ncube has owned and run the papers for more than a decade. Yet now, after all these years, government brings up the question of citizenship in a pathetically transparent ploy to take advantage of a hare-brained decree that limits participation in the media to citizens only.
The recent government action in refusing to renew Ncube’s passport, forcing him to take costly and time-consuming legal action to compel registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, to restore his birthright, raises fundamental questions about citizenship rights.
This is just another step in the Zanu (PF) regime’s abuse of its powers in regard to the systematic abrogation of human rights. Ncube joins millions of Zimbabweans whose rights have been arbitrarily and illegally trampled upon, and who have no recourse to the law.
For example, communities in Gokwe and Mberengwa have had their shortwave radios confiscated recently by the CIO. For many, this was their only means of accessing information. At the time of going to press, the CIO continues to ignore a court order declaring the seizures illegal.
This is a clear indication of the hopelessness of the situation in Zimbabwe with regard to law and order. To whom should the people now turn? Where do we go from here?

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