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Zimbabwe State Journalist Killed Over The Truth

Filed under: Africa ~ Zimbabwe

Disturbing images revealing Mugabe's henchmen brutally beating opposition leaders last month were leaked to the West, greatly amplifying the shock that many felt reading through the headlines. The name of this brave journalist is Edward Chikombo, a cameraman for state-run broadcaster ZBC. Or should I say, was? Revealing his name on this site makes no difference. Today, he turned up dead about 50 miles away from the capital.

A local journalist suspected of having links to Zimbabwe's opposition has been found murdered following an escalation of the government's campaign of violence and intimidation.

Edward Chikombo, a part-time cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare last week. His body was discovered at the weekend near the village of Darwendale, 50 miles west of the capital, The Independent has learnt.

There are concerns in Harare that the killing may be linked to the smuggling out of the country of television pictures of the badly injured opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after he was beaten up by police on 11 March.

A former colleague of Mr Chikombo said: "It's not clear whether the murder was a message to the media or a political killing." The footage of Mr Tsvangirai leaving a Harare courthouse with a suspected fractured skull, and then lying in a hospital bed, provoked a storm of international criticism of Robert Mugabe's regime. Journalists for the state broadcaster routinely film news as it happens in the country but cannot use the footage in heavily censored bulletins. Some pictures do find a way out of the country and in the past staff at ZBC have been sacked or harassed under suspicion of selling it to foreign broadcasters.
There is a fine mental line for most of today's leaders between collective savagery imposed on a nation, for that is collective and thus equally shared, and targeting the opposition politicos. The former is a constant regardless with totalitarian regimes. Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change represent the organized effort to oust Mugabe. If they're put out of commission, it will become all the harder to do so.

It is a sign of desperation on Mugabe's part that he is now physically attacking -- and now evening killing -- his rivals and betrayer rather than simply threatening and harassing them. International pressure, even some coming from African countries, is reaching fever pitch while the people of Zimbabwe increasingly see no difference between life under Mugabe and death. Yet the former they can do something about. At the risk of sounding overly optimistic as I have in the past, Mugabe may not see the next "election."

Further commentary at: The Osterly Times and AMERICAblog.

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