Monday, November 13, 2006


News from Zimbabwe continues getting bad for journalists.

According to Zimbabwe News Online, last week a government appointed media regulating body, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) issued a directive to officials at Harare Polytechnic, which houses the School of Journalism, to accept only students who passed through the controversial national youth service training programme.

Many countries have some form of national service for their youths and that in itself is not a problem. The youths are taught the virtues of nationhood; they learn to help the needy and to appreciate their country, its history and sovereignty.

However, the youth national service in Zimbabwe is basically a politicization and military boot camp. It is managed by President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party, administered by sworn Zanu PF members of the army, the war veterans and bona fide zealots. The message taught to the youths is simply “Zanu PF – Excellent, Anything else – Very Bad”. There is no reasoning, not justification.

At completion of the training, the youths would have been transformed into a well-drilled brutal propaganda-enforcing machine called the “Green Bombers”. The name “Green Bombers” is derived from the huge green housefly common in tropical regions. It is such a menace.

The Green Bomber flies with a buzz that resembles a First World War bomber, stings like a bee and spreads disease at a fast and deadly rate. The Zanu PF youths wear green uniforms, attack opposition members with deadly ferocity and have contributed to more killing and maiming of innocent Zimbabweans than the army, police, war veterans and secret police combined. Imagine a bunch of journalists with such qualities.

What boggles the mind is that Professor Tafataona Mahoso, a former head of the journalism school, leads the MIC. He is the one who issued the directive for journalists to undergo the youth service training.

This follows immediately after a directive from the president for security details to invade Internet cafes in an effort to ferret out journalists who keep supplying foreign media with stories like this one which Mugabe and his government consider “falsehoods”.

Hundreds of Zimbabwean journalists have been killed, jailed, maimed or exiled for reporting truths about the Zanu PF government’s undemocratic rule, its atrocious human rights record and its plunder of what used to be one of Africa’s best managed economies.

When will it end?