Herald newspaper censors CSO’s communique

The Propaganda Machine Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is extremely disturbed by the 
actions of the Herald newspaper after its Editor refused to publish a 

LHR including the following 23 civic bodies had crafted the communiqué, 
Bulawayo Agenda (BA), Christian Alliance (CA), Counseling Services Unit 
(CSU), Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), General Agriculture and 
Plantation Workers Union( GAPWUZ), Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), Media 
Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe), Media 
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), National Association of Non-Governmental 
Organizations (NANGO), Oxfam, Progressive Teachers Association of Zimbabwe 
(PTUZ), Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), Save Zimbabwe Campaign (SZC), 
Veritas, Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), Zimbabwe Association of 
Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development 
(Zimcodd), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), Zimbabwe Human Rights 
Association (ZimRights), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRF), Zimbabwe 
National Students Union (Zinasu), Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), Zimbabwe 
Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP).
ZLHR on Thursday 26 February 2009 visited the Herald House to book space for 
the communiqué and was told by one of the advertising representatives that 
the communiqué would be taken to the newspaper’s Editor for vetting before 
placement in the newspaper. The advertising representative informed ZLHR 
that the Editor was not in office and would inform ZLHR once the Editor 
endorses the advertisement. At around 15:30 PM, the advertising 
representative informed ZLHR that the Editor had vetted the communiqué and 
had recommended the dropping of two paragraphs from the communiqué for it to 
be carried in the newspaper.
The censored paragraphs contained in the communiqué read as follows;
"Deeply concerned at the continued assault on the fundamental rights and 
freedoms of the people of Zimbabwe, in particular human rights defenders and 
legitimate political activists, In solidarity with our colleagues and others 
who remain unjustly incarcerated at various prisons, remand facilities and 
hospitals around Zimbabwe."
After being informed of the censored paragraphs ZLHR then refused to 
advertise the amended communiqué as it omitted some vital information. ZLHR 
condemns the amendment of the CSMM communiqué by the Herald, which is 
supposed to be a public newspaper. The amendment of the communiqué by the 
Herald Editor amounts to bowdlerization and has the effect of subjecting the 
media to the dictates of the "powerful". Such pre-publication censorship may 
force the media to expunge large amounts of their news coverage from their 
pages. The expurgation of the CSMM communiqué highlights and emphasizes the 
urgent need for the coalition government particularly the new Minister of 
Media and Information Publicity Mr Webster Shamu and his deputy Mr Jameson 
Timba to restore the credibility and independence of the state-run print 
media and broadcaster so that they truly function in the public interest.
ZLHR calls upon the Editors and staff at The Herald to change tack and 
operate freely and without interference or pre-publication censorship. As a 
public media the Herald must provide balanced and fair coverage to all 
Zimbabweans, parties and organizations for their legitimate activities.

Post published in: Politics

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