Media urged to wake up to Zimbabwe crisis

Fraser: undercover BBC reporter

A BBC journalist who went undercover to report from Zimbabwe has called on the British media to wake up to the unfolding crisis in that country.

"We’re talking about 6.5 million people here who could starve by Christmas and the international community has not woken up to it," said Christian Fraser, the Breakfast reporter on Five Live. "It seems that it is only when you start to see children with stick bones and swollen bellies that the tabloids get turned on."

Fraser managed to get into Zimbabwe, from where the BBC has been banned, via South Africa. He then went to Harare and moved out to cover a by-election where Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party was manipulating the food supply in order to secure an electoral win.

Fraser’s reports on Zimbabwe have gone out on Five Live, Radio One and News 24.

Fraser also believes that when the British media do focus on Zimbabwe, there is too much attention paid to white farmers.

"There are 1.5 million people working for the white farmers and they say there is too much focus on them. The farmers will admit that they can move and farm elsewhere – that is not an option for many who work for them," he said.

Fraser recalled one case in which a farmer went away and returned to discover the whole workforce of 500 black farm workers had been removed and dumped elsewhere.

Fraser is keen that the UK media start to give the crisis in Zimbabwe proper coverage. "The reaction when you tell people that more than six million people could starve by Christmas is, ‘It’s Africa, isn’t it?’ It’s a sad indictment that we don’t care or the people who sell newspapers don’t care."

By Paul Donovan

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