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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 17:49 GMT
Profile: Basildon Peta
Basildon Peta
Peta says he is motivated by the love of his country
Basildon Peta is no stranger to controversy.

His journalistic roles - he is currently special projects editor at the Foreign Gazette and reporter for London's The Independent - have already earned him unwanted attention from the Zimbabwe authorities.


At times I am scared but I don't let fear get the better of me

Basildon Peta
He was allegedly named on a security services "hit list" last August as one of seven Zimbabwe journalists who would be "targeted" by the Central Intelligence Organisation ahead of the presidential elections.

Then he was one of six journalists named as "terrorists" by a presidential spokesman last year.

And he has been arrested before. In 1994 he was detained for seven days after he exposed government ministers and party companies who were not paying their taxes.

Relative protection

According to Leonard Doyle, foreign editor at The Independent, he has suffered particular intimidation at the hands of the authorities for more than a year, including having bullets pushed under his door, much to the horror of his wife and his two small children.

His 63 year-old mother-in-law has also been visited by self-styled war veterans - her son often visits her at the weekend.

Mr Doyle, who described Mr Peta as a "very distinguished journalist" says President Mugabe's administration do not like the fact that Mr Peta works for The Independent because it feels this affords him greater protection.

The Independent is in very close contact with his lawyer, Tawanda Hondora, a top human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe, and it has organised a safe house for his family, Mr Doyle said.

Mr Peta, 30, is known for his taste for sharp, brightly-coloured suits.

He is also secretary-general of the Zimbabwean Union of Journalists and participated in a government-appointed commission to draft a new constitution.

He says that the ZUJ will soon be taking the government's to court over its new media laws, which he describes as "draconian" and "unconstitutional".

Motivation

Mr Peta has been working for The Financial Gazette for the last three years, which he rejoined after periods at the Zimbabwe Independent and the Daily News.

He told BBC News Online that the love of his country and his desire to tell the truth drive him to stick his head above the parapet.

He said he had never found anywhere else in the world he would rather live. But he said he could not live in Zimbabwe if it were "destroyed" by President Mugabe and therefore is "fighting to save it".

Even though the pressure had intensified over the last year, he said he had now learned to deal with the intimidation.

"At times I am scared but I don't let fear get the better of me," he said.


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04 Feb 02 | Africa
09 Jan 02 | Africa
08 Jan 02 | Africa
20 Dec 01 | Africa
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