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REGIONS:

MEDIA COVERAGE FAVOURS MUGABE'S PARTY

As Zimbabwe's citizens prepare to vote in parliamentary elections on 31 March 2005, IFEX members are sounding the alarm at government moves to snuff out criticism in the media, warning that elections will take place in a climate of intimidation and censorship.

With virtually all media under the control of the state, coverage of the candidates is skewed in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF party, says Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF). The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is "extremely handicapped by the lack of coverage it is getting from the state media," the organisation says.

According to the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), an independent Harare-based watchdog, 19 of the 28 articles about the election campaign in state media defended the Zanu-PF party during the week of 14 to 20 February. The following week, 58 of the 66 articles about the election campaign were devoted to Zanu-PF.

RSF says the Zimbabwean government is ignoring obligations to treaties it has signed with the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regarding the holding of free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that three journalists working for foreign media outlets in Zimbabwe were forced to flee the country in February after being constantly harassed and threatened by police (see: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Zim22feb05pl.html).

Visit:

- RSF:
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12783
- Reporter Describes Escape Ordeal: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12630
- CPJ:
http://www.cpj.org/attacks04/africa04/zim.html
- Why South Africa Must Speak Out on Zimbabwe:
http://www.cpj.org/op_ed/Crawford12feb04.htm
- Human Rights Watch Report on the Elections: http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/zimbabwe0305/
- Zimbabwe Election Focus: http://www.iwpr.net
- The Daily News:
http://www.daily-news.co.za/
- Kubatana:
http://www.kubatana.net
- International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance: http://www.idea.int/africa/southern/reg_ass_05.cfm

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