Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Why knowing about Failed States is a local concern

Foreign Policy issued its annual Failed States Index this week.

As usual, the report is depressing. It shows too many people living in areas that are chaotic at best. And with chaos comes violence, health problems and abject poverty.

So why should a LOCAL journalist in a LOCAL news organization care about the abysmal conditions people have to suffer through? (Aside from the basic humanitarian concerns we all share.)

Bottom line: Knowing what is happening in other coutnries is a matter of LOCAL concern.

Think about it…

When a government and a society fall apart, the number refugees skyrocket. And where do those refugees go? In many cases they come to the United States.

But the USA is a big place. Why the LOCAL concern?

The refugees have to go somewhere.

Who would have ever thought that the Minneapolis-St. Paul area would be ground zero for Somali refugees. (Somalia is #1 on the list.)

And just about every county in the the States has someone who has been touched by the wars in Afghanistan (#7) and Iraq (#9).

In the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is alone at #5.

In Africa, besides Somalia there is Chad (#2), Sudan (#3), Democratic Republic of Congo (#4), Zimbabwe (#6), Central African Republic (#8) and the Ivory Coast (#10).

With a little research we find that each of these “Failed States” has some sort of natural resource vital to modern society. And each country is a source of a large number of refugees.

Sounds as if there is plenty here for a LOCAL news organization to get a LOCAL angle on this international event.

Oh, by the way, Pakistan is #12 and Yemen, where the U.S. is also active, is #13.

Even China (#79) is seen as “In Trouble.” If that country goes, where will Wal-Mart get merchandise to fill its shelves?

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Filed under International News Coverage, Story Ideas

Zimbabwe looking to use copyright laws to keep laws from the people

Talk about copyright protection gone crazy.

Boing Boing reports that Zimbabwe justice minister is steering a bill through Parliament that seeks to amend the copyright laws by giving copyright protection to legislation, notices and other material in the Government Gazette, court judgments and certain public registers.

Yep, that means the government wants to copyright in all these documents. The law will give the government all the rights and powers of a copyright holder.

And that power means the law and the doings of government will be copyrighted and not freely distributable to the governed.

It should come as no surprise. Zimbabwe is ranked #123 of 178 in the world on press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Let’s not forget that Oregon tried this a while back: Oregon: our laws are copyrighted and you can’t publish them

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Filed under Africa, Censorship

Zimbabwe media surpressed: No surprise to people willing to listen

The Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity of the government of Pres. Robert Mugabe has ordered the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and other state-controlled newspapers to stop covering ministers belonging to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). The MDC-T is a partner in the Zimbabwe government and headed by prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The ministry’s directive came down after the MDC-T suspended its power-sharing arrangement with Mugabe’s party, ZANU. The reason for the suspension was because of Mugabe’s unwillingness to live up the the agreement hammered out last year to prevent a civil war.

See IFEX report on the ministry directive.

Anyone who has paid attention to the Zimbabwe situation will know that Robert Mugabe has never been one to support free media or any other democratic institution. This was clear from the beginning when he was the leader of one of two rebel groups trying to overthrow the white government of Ian Smith in what was then called Rhodesia.

Once Smith and the ruling white forces realized they had to make changes to avoid a bloody revolution, Smith negotiated a series of elections to transfer power to the black majority.

Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, another rebel leader, rejected the elections.

So did the Carter administration and many U.S. groups.

Observers of the elections, however, saw something different. They saw black voters turning out in large numbers to move their country toward real majority rule.

One of those leaders was U.S. civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. (Rustin was the organizer behind the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.)

In a July 1979 article Rustin talked about the election and why the critics were wrong. He also said of Mugabe:

Mugabe, even more than Nkomo, favors totalitarianism out of ideological conviction. He has made no secret of his belief that “the multiparty system is a luxury,” and he has announced that if the blacks of Zimbabwe do not like his ideology, “then we will have to reeducate them.”

The War Against Zimbabwe

Otherwise reasonable people ignored Rustin’s view of Mugabe and pushed through policies that doomed the transitional government and condemned the people of Zimbabwe to 30 years of poverty, dictatorship and violence.

Only recently have people begun to see what Rustin and others like him saw 30 years ago.

If a person rises to power with a background of anti-free press, anti-democratic views, the rest of the world should not be surprised when that person sets up a dictatorship.






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Filed under Censorship, Corruption, International News Coverage, Press Freedom