The International Federation of Journalists called this week for the media across the world to show solidarity and support for the journalists under attack in Zimbabwe. "This campaign against journalists and independent media smacks of panic and growing crisis within Government circles," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary.
He said that official rhetoric against independent journalists was a further sign of Government disarray over how to deal with its internal crisis and deteriorating relations with governments abroad.
The IFJ again called on the authorities to allow banned foreign media back into Zimbabwe and has pledged to provide practical support and assistance to journalists who are victimised by President Robert Mugabe’s Government.
"We are calling for the widest possible media solidarity – involving journalists’ unions, editors and publishers the world over – to confront the crisis in Zimbabwe," said the IFJ.
Independent correspondent Basildon Peta has continued his quest to keep the press freedom flag flying in Zimbabwe. Peta was named as the top target on Mugabe’s hit list of journalists published in Zimbabwe’s Standard on Sunday, 19 August.
The following Tuesday, detectives demanded an interview with him – the same detectives, he told The Independent on Sunday, who had already arrested and charged seven journalists with criminal defamation. He determined on a brave course; he would confront his accusers, he said.
Two days later, he went with his lawyer to the police station and was interviewed by Det Insp Malungwa, who seemed only to be concerned with who was behind threats to Peta, which have included being sent packets of bullets in the post.
"I was relieved to have emerged unscathed from the meeting," Peta told Independent readers. But his lawyer has advised he remain vigilant.
Peta is president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists which is affiliated to the IFJ.
By Jon Slattery and Jean Morgan