Editors slam shock move on publisher

Sowetan Reporter

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) is shocked by the news that the Zimbabwean government is trying to strip respected publisher Trevor Ncube of his citizenship.

The government's actions have been directed at his application to obtain a new passport.

Ncube said he has been informed that the government's conduct has been approved "at the highest level''. This means that it has the support of President Robert Mugabe, whose abysmal governance of Zimbabwe has been vigorously criticised by Ncube's papers, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, which are the last independent papers there.

Loss of citizenship means that Ncube would be entitled to only a 40percent share of the papers.

This indicates that Mugabe wants to close the papers or to change their critical stance by forcing on them a new ownership structure more supportive of him.

Sanef dismisses, as trumped up and spurious, the arguments the authorities have presented in support of their attempts to strip Ncube of citizenship. Furthermore, their arguments are negated by a signed certificate of his Zimbabwean citizenship that was presented to him several years ago, by those authorities.

Sanef believes their conduct is a serious inroad in to what is left of media freedom in Zimbabwe and in to Ncube's personal freedom.

Sanef is deeply concerned that Zimbabwe's action against Ncube, the publisher of South Africa's Mail & Guardian, can have harmful consequences for the weekly and for the media institutions that Ncube either heads or in which he is involved.