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January 1, 2007
Mugabe Shutting Down Newspapers

The political situation continues to deteriorate in Zimbabwe, even as it improves in Somalia. Dictator Robert Mugabe has ordered the closure of a newspaper opposed to his rule by stripping its publisher of his Zimbabwean citizenship:

Robert Mugabe's government has moved to close Zimbabwe's remaining independent press by stripping newspaper owner Trevor Ncube of his citizenship.

The action against the publisher comes as Mr Mugabe, 82 and president for 26 years, pushes for an extension to his term of office by a further two years. Frustrated by unprecedented resistance from within his Zanu-PF party, he appears to be trying to silence all of his critics.

Yesterday an outspoken opponent, Lovemore Madhuku, accused the police of failing to investigate a fire at his home, which he said was arson. "It is very clear that the government is trying to silence all critical voices, including Trevor Ncube and his newspapers, and me. We are all opposed to Mugabe's attempts to extend his rule to 2010," said Madhuku, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, when I spoke about aid to Africa, I warned about supporting oppressive regimes through the indiscriminate use of aid funds. When I spoke with Bono and Bob Geldof in a conference call for Live Aid 8. they assured me and everyone else on the call that Mugabe wouldn't see a dime from it, and this is the reason for that concern.

This seems even more ridiculous than usual. Stripping a man of his citizenship to silence his newspaper takes oppression of free speech to a ridiculous low. Mugabe claims that because Ncube's father was Zambian, Ncube does not qualify as a Zimbabwean. However, Ncube was born in Zimbabwe and has never lived elsewhere, making his citizenship very clear to all but the worst of African tyrants. Ncube's father was a citizen of Zimbabwe by the time Ncube was born, in any case.

Ncube runs the only two independent newspapers left in Zimbabwe. He alone reported that Mugabe's own party voted against his latest attempt to hold power. Mugabe has to find a way to shut them down in order to keep his thumb on Zimbabwe and extend his rule, which has already lasted for more than a quarter-century. If the citizenship dodge doesn't work, Mugabe will no doubt use extrajudicial manners in which to silence one of the few people with any ability to oppose him.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 1, 2007 1:19 PM

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Tracked on January 1, 2007 9:18 PM


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