Freedom fears for Zimbabwe's media

ITV correspondent Tim Ewart is concerned for independent journalists working under draconian press laws enacted by Robert Mugabe after his recent re-election as Zimbabwe’s President.

Ewart, one of two ITN journalists allowed to enter the country for the election, said there was no attempt by the authorities "to restrict or to censor" foreign journalists.

"We had completely open access to both main parties, to the polling queues and the polling stations – from a professional point of view, it was fine," he said. "But the local independent media had a very difficult time, they were frequently harassed and followed – it was much harder for them than the international press."

Ewart said the Access to Infor-mation Act that was enacted two days after the disputed elections was largely driven by a desire to "muzzle" the country’s independent media.

The law, which blocks foreign news organisations setting up any bureaux in the country, requires all journalists to be licenced by the Government.

But journalists also believe that a government reshuffle could see Mugabe’s right-hand man, Jonathan Moyo, moving from the ministry of information to the foreign office. Moyo was behind the ban on the BBC last year.

By Julie Tomlin

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