PRESS FREEDOM IN ZIMBABWE

30 March 2001
Harare (Zimbabwe) - The Graphics Association of Zimbabwe (GRAZI) abhors and condemns the latest attacks on the independent press in Zimbabwe, accumulating in the bombing of the Daily News printing press.
Harare (Zimbabwe) - The Graphics Association of Zimbabwe (GRAZI) abhors and condemns the latest attacks on the independent press in Zimbabwe, accumulating in the bombing of the Daily News printing press. The independent press is a vibrant and necessary force in the process of democratisation and attempts to silence this voice will only be met with condemnation. The design profession is struggling in unfavourable economic and political conditions. The effects of this latest action will impact negatively on perceptions of Zimbabwe overseas further damaging trade, commerce and funding partnerships. GRAZI can not support any action that erodes freedom of expression and limits opportunities for design and designers.


This time last year the first ever referendum, since Independence, was held to decide on the content of a new constitution. The people rejected the governments' draft and a wave of triumph rippled through the country. The 'no' vote was seen as a vote of no confidence in Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-pf. After 20 years in power the gains of the early 1980's in health and education had been overshadowed by badly implemented and concieved IMF policies, corruption, little movement on land re-distribution, costly intervention in the DRC and a collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar.

The post-referendum momentum gathered pace and pushed half of Zanu-pf's Mps out of office in the June elections, paving the way for the first viable opposition party. On the streets, the taboo of criticsing Mugabe was broken - the man must go was the unanimous agreement, an utterance unthinkable in the past. But a year later, although the sentiment remains the same, the streets have gone silent. 12 months of political intimidation have made us cautious about what we say and to whom.

In one year, the rule of law has been eroded, the judiciary threatened, press freedom suppressed, the opposition, white farmers, rural electorate and urban dwellers beaten and killed. With the economy in shreds poverty has become endemic and and has knocked on the door of all but a tiny elite.

Most workers in Harare go without food during the day, having only enough money for one meal. Fuel has run out yet again only now the pumps have been dry for two weeks. Yesterday we argued at work, should we stop complaining and try to be more optimistic or should we acknowledge we are angry and depressed, should we leave or stay, should we speak out or be silent? But today we had deadlines to meet (and fuel to worry about) and although the questions still hang over our heads they will have to wait until next week, or the one after...



For further information please contact:

Jane Shepherd
Graphics Association of ZImbabwe Grazi (GRAZI)
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