The octogenarian Mugabe, one of world’s oldest rulers, was hailed when he came to power as a “liberator” comparable with Nelson Mandela but these days he tolerates no criticism. His regime’s “slum clearance” targets opposition strongholds and made 700,000 people homeless in 2005, but he describes it as a public health operation. The 2002 information law introduced strict monitoring of the media and is used to combat supposed foreign subversion. The 2003 ban on the country’s most popular newspaper, the Daily News, was described by Mugabe as simply a bureaucratic move.
Mugabe orders the arrest of local and foreign journalists, who he accuses of spying because they do not obey the regime’s strict rules, and uses threats and legal harassment in a bid to silence them. Zimbawean radio stations based abroad are jammed, using Chinese equipment, and the former “breadbasket” of southern Africa is now one of the continent’s most repressive countries.
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