Zimbabwe allows ITV and C4 News to cover election

Tim Ewart

Two broadcast journalists from the UK have been allowed to cover Zimbabwe’s General Election while President Robert Mugabe’s Government continues to ban the BBC.

The decision to allow Tim Ewart of ITV news and Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News into the country was seen as a further snub to the corporation, which has been banned from Zimbabwe since last year.

"The Government has obviously got a bee in its bonnet about the BBC and is probably allowing in broadcasters that it sees as direct competition to them," said Hilsum.

But both journalists said they would prefer their BBC rivals to be there to report on the 9 March ballot.

"I don’t take any pleasure in being one of the only British broadcasters that is being allowed in," said Ewart, who is ITN’s Africa correspondent. "I regret that the Beeb won’t be there because we are used to working alongside them as friendly competition."

Ewart said he hoped to reflect the different shades of opinion in the country, but added he was "extremely cautious" about whom he approached.

"The war veterans have been extremely hostile and you can’t exactly go unnoticed with a camera. If people there are out to bash British journalists, then we’re it."

Hilsum said: "The most important thing to try to reflect is what is happening to the black people, who are the vast majority and the future of the country. "

Sky News’s Africa correspondent, Stuart Ramsay, has not been given permission to enter Zimbabwe.

CNN has gained accreditation for its bureaux chiefs Jeff Koinange (Lagos) and Charlayne Hunter-Gault (Johannesburg).

by Julie Tomlin

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