Zimbabwe Army Declares Foreign-Based Journalists "At War" With The State
General Philip Sibanda, the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, seen here shaking hands with Morgan Tsvangirai on Defence Forces Day in Harare last month, has accused Zimbabwe's foreign-based media, and especially the Radio Stations, of waging war on Zimbabwe. It goes to show what I have been saying all along that actions speak louder than words. What good is it to have the Generals being nice to your face but working feverishly to sabotage your agenda? That is what Morgan Tsvangirai is going through.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 15 September 2009
Zimbabwe's National Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Philip Sibanda told a Study Seminar at 2 Brigade Headquarters yesterday that foreign-based radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe were "at war" with the state and warned his soldiers to remain on guard against such things.
Sibanda, who was speaking in Harare, said:
Our country is undergoing asymmetric type of war where all means are used to achieve set objectives by our detractors.
Zimbabweans must be aware and clearly understand that war is not only about guns and bullets.
Zimbabwe’s detractors are using some NGOs and pirate radio stations to spread false and hate messages that will lead to rioting, despondency and eventually cause war.
In light of this, it is clear that the Prime Minister's assurances to the people that there is media reform afoot in Zimbabwe is just a pipe dream. When journalists who could not practice in Zimbabwe because the news they reported was deemed subversive are labeled enemies of the state in this naked manner, what does it say about the Government's commitment to press freedom.
What chance is there that the publications seeking to be licenced in order to publish will be allowed to do so?
What chance is there that the airwaves will be freed up and other players allowed to operate freely?
These are pretty strong sentiments coming from an Army Commander. It is this sort of teaching of soldiers that results in scenes the world witnessed in Rwanda, where journalists and other civilians were considered enemy combatants for merely giving space and time to opposing views.
Most of the radio stations Sibanda says are "beaming messages of hate" into Zimbabwe, like SW Radio, VOP and even Studio Seven are run by experienced Zimbabwean journalists who are crying out for an opportunity to report from within the country.
The problem is that they do not subscribe to The Herald form of reporting or the ZBC and they refuse to close their eyes to human rights abuses, corruption, excesses and other vices from Mugabe's party.
That apparently makes them enemies of the state, at war with their own country.
Put simply, General Sibanda yesterday accused all Zimbabwean journalists working from outside Zimbabwe of high treason.
It does not bode well for media reform or indeed for the health of this already moribund Inclusive Government.