The Trade Unions called a general strike for two days. It was not a big success, with the BBC saying only a few staying away and many other press agencies parroting the government controlled press in saying it was a failure.

But after a little hope last week, when there was an international outcry against the beating of opposition leaders, Mugabe returned from a regional summit with the blessings of South Africa and other nearby countries, or so he claims.

The result is that opposition leaders have been arrested, including some who were in jail.

A local Zim free lance journalist has been murdered over leaked photos.Edward Chikombo, a part-time cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was found dead in a village 50 miles west of Harare. He had been kidnapped by unknown persons last week. The rumor is that the murder was in retaliation for taking the dramatic photos of the injured opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and arranging for the photos to be smuggled out of the country. Chikombo, who was kidnapped by armed men, is only one of many opposition leaders who have disappeared in a similar fashion.

Other journalists have been arrested, opposition papers shut down, and there are reports of internet cafes being monitored to prevent independent journalists from posting stories to the media.
Because major newsoutlets such as the BBC and CNN are restricted in their reporting, and since all local news is run by the government, the internet and South African radio stations have become a major source of the news. There are many Zimbabweans living in South Africa, either as workers, as refugees, or as undocumented workers. They are however considered “Economic” rather than political refugees.

Even the usually apolitical Catholic bishops have issued a letter read in churches last weekend comparing Mugabe’s thuggery with that of the previous white apartheid government of Ian Smith.
Under threat of government retaliation to both strikers and businesses that would dare to shut down, the trade union boycott essentially has failed.

And ironically, the BBC has placed Zimbabwe again at the bottom of the line for news. Now that the abductions are not available as photo ops, they only note the strike has failed, and then go on to other more important news.

I often complain “when it bleeds it leads” ignores the context of news stories, but in the case of Zimbabwe, the combination of threats of violence and the monitoring of the news have stopped the gory photos, so the situation will probably be ignored.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage on Zimbabwe is Mugabe Makaipa blog.

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