Wednesday, 29 July 2009

BBC allowed back into Zimbabwe

The BBC has been allowed back into Zimbabwe after being banned for eight years and is hoping to reopen a bureau in Harare.
BBC World News editor Jon Williams writing on the BBC's The Editors' blog this evening said: "Ten days ago, I made a journey I thought I might never make - to Harare, Zimbabwe.
"Eight years ago, we had a disagreement with the then Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo; ever since, the BBC has operated undercover in Zimbabwe...this week, for the first time since July 2001, BBC News is back in Zimbabwe - openly and legally."
Williams adds: "Reporting undercover takes great courage and commitment. However, it is no substitute for being able to operate transparently. Inevitably, part of the story becomes how our teams are trying to avoid being found and arrested, rather than focusing on the people of Zimbabwe.
"Operating illegally and clandestinely has to be a last resort. So I'm pleased that we've been assured by the Zimbabwe government that the BBC is not banned, and that we can resume our operations in Zimbabwe."
This week Andrew Harding became the first BBC correspondent to enter the country on an authorised assignment since 2001.
Williams said: "In time, I hope we may be able to open a bureau in Harare, and we can report from Zimbabwe as we do from most other places around the world.
"For now, we're pleased at being able to operate openly in Zimbabwe once again - our presence there this week, is a welcome, constructive, and important first step."
A ban on CNN has also been lifted. The lifting of the bans on the two international broadcasters comes five months after President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tavangirai formed an inclusive government in Zimbabwe.
Press freedom campaigners will be hoping the new openness will extend to the domestic media and there will be an end to the brutal repression of independent newspapers like the Daily News.

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