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Saturday, 1 December, 2001, 13:32 GMT
Journalists to fight Zimbabwe controls
Senior editors of the independent Zimbabwe newspaper the Daily News inspect bomb damage
Daily News: bombed after minister vowed to silence it
Independent journalists in Zimbabwe have vowed to fight the government's plans to control the media.

Under proposed legislation, a new regime of licensing journalists would disqualify foreign reporters from working in the country.

This must be fought with all the legal powers we have to prevent it seeing the light of day

Publisher Trevor Ncube
Zimbabweans breaking a new professional code could be fined or jailed for up to two years.

Executives from the country's private media are to meet urgently to formulate their response, said Trevor Ncube, who publishes two of the country's three independent newspapers, the Zimbabwe Independent and the Sunday Standard.

He said the proposals amounted to "dictatorship".

Basildon Peta, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said the move was unconstitutional.

"Any attempt by the government to license journalists flies in the face of our constitutional rights of free expression and our right to earn a living," he said.

The measures approved by the government on Friday are designed to give the authorities complete control over what is written and broadcast in the country.

The Access to Information and Privacy Bill would prevent journalists writing unauthorised reports on cabinet deliberations and would ban foreign journalists from working in the country.

Pre-election move

The bill has not yet been passed by parliament but the state-owned Herald newspaper says it will be introduced soon.

Remains of the Daily News' printing press
The Daily News is still published despite the bombing
The move is part of President Robert Mugabe's campaign against the independent media in the run-up to presidential elections early next year.

Zimbabwe's media is sharply divided between that owned by the state, which act as government mouthpieces, and others which are highly critical of Mr Mugabe.

In January, the printing press of the only private daily newspaper, The Daily News, was bombed hours after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo vowed to silence it as an "enemy of the state".

Three foreign correspondents have been expelled this year and in July, BBC foreign correspondents were barred from reporting from Zimbabwe.

The BBC, meanwhile, has rejected a report in The Herald which alleged that it was planning to begin broadcasting on a new frequency to incite the Zimbabwean people to revolt.

See also:

29 Jan 01 | Africa
Daily News hits the streets
24 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
How I left Zimbabwe
01 Aug 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe 'murder plot' fails
30 Oct 01 | Talking Point
Zimbabwe: Is it time for sanctions?
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