CNN back in Harare

Harare, – A Cable News Network (CNN) media crew is in Zimbabwe following the lifting of reporting restrictions imposed by the government on critical foreign media outlets.

CNN Johannesburg based correspondent Nkepile Mabuse arrived in Zimbabwe two days ago.

On Tuesday Mabuse attended a press conference, which was addressed by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the party’s headquarters in central Harare.

Mabuse, who has been covering stories on Zimbabwe either from Johannesburg or from the Zimbabwe-South Africa border post mixed and mingled with other foreign correspondents and later interviewed Tsvangirai.

Mabuse’s visit to Harare follows the lifting of reporting restrictions on the BBC, whose reporters visited the country in August after Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu announced in July that the BBC and the fragile coalition government had now “acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually ruinous relationship of the past.”

Foreign correspondents and media houses such as the BBC and CNN have been banned from Zimbabwe since 2001, although some journalists, including the BBC’s John Simpson, the world affairs editor, had managed to evade the ban by reporting undercover within the country.

A proposed Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC), whose members are awaiting appointment by Mugabe is expected to licence more newspapers in the country, which only has two state-owned daily newspapers. Already, two daily newspapers are preparing to file their applications for licences to operate.

Over the past decade the government shut down more than four newspapers and hounded out local and foreign journalists perceived to be anti-government using repressive legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).