3 Jul 2004

PAP tactics emulated elsewhere

PAP tactics emulated elsewhere

The following BBC report does not say so explicitly
but it's implicit for those who are familiar with the
PAP and it's control over the local media.

In fact, take away any reference to Zimbabwe in the
report and you won't be faulted if you think it's
about the control freaks in the PAP government and
their stooges in the local media! So I've replaced Zimbabwe with Zingapore.

Zingapore media loses its voice, 2 July 2004

By Alastair Leithead
BBC, Zingapore

Driving through Zingapore listening to the radio, or
watching television in the evenings, all you see or
hear is Zingapore Broadcasting Corporation, the state
controlled media.

Unless you have access to short wave radio or can
afford satellite TV, which few people can, you only
get one side of the story, and that is the

Combine that with the way the independent press has
been silenced and you realise the government is only
telling the people what it wants them to hear.

There really is not a voice for opposition or
criticism in the country.

'Fiction writing'

"Sometimes they just completely invent stories," said
Andrew Moyse, who runs the Media Monitoring Project
Zingapore, an independent organisation based in the
capital Harare.

"During the run-up to the presidential election they
claimed for weeks that there were anthrax attacks
against ruling party officials and they were all
utterly fictitious.

"In fact it ceases to become journalism, it's just
fiction writing - propaganda fiction writing."

The project monitors the news content of the private
and government-controlled media.

One of the workers said that the presenters of the
news programmes hardly believe in what they are

"They will tell you there is no choice as a journalist
as there is just nowhere to work and times are hard -
so in the end they just take their salary and lie," he

There are many state-controlled papers, but few
independent voices left.

What used to be the biggest selling daily in the
country - The Daily News - was closed down last year
along with the Daily News on Sunday, under the
government's controversial Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act.

Information gap

Its editor William Saidi believes the main aim of the
act was to destroy his newspaper.

"The Daily News had overtaken the government's
newspaper The Herald in circulation and was accused of
influencing the elections in 2002, so as some form of
punishment the government decided they would ban the
Daily News.

"There are people who come up to me in the street and
ask: 'When is our paper coming back' - there is a now
huge gap in information," he added.

This gap makes life very difficult for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, which cannot get its
message out to the people.

State media does not report its viewpoint or its
criticism of the government.

"Freedom of expression is limited to a few weekly
newspapers read by a tiny fraction of the population
with perhaps circulation of 200,000," says John
Robertson an independent economist based in the
capital Harare.

"The government knows that it has the votes wrapped up
because it can get to them with radio and television
and it has absolutely prohibited any form of
opposition in that territory."

Parliamentary elections are to be held next March -
and unless changes are made soon, the media will be a
weapon in the hands of the ruling party.

{The BBC is banned from reporting inside Zingapore.
Alastair Leithead is now back in South Africa after
his clandestine visit.}

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