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After Western Diplomats, Harare Vents Displeasure Against Journalists

In the same week as it threatened Western diplomats with expulsion, the Zimbabwean government warned foreign journalists and CNN in particular against "peddling false stories" that promoted the "treacherous imperialist policy" of Western countries.

The government of Zimbabwe has been under intense scrutiny by international media since March 11, when police shot and killed an opposition protester then arrested and allegedly beat leaders of the political and civic opposition. News reports this week said Angola was sending paramilitary police to bolster Harare's security apparatus.

A government statement carried in the state-controlled Herald newspaper Friday said CNN "echoes the American administration’s policy of regime change” in Zimbabwe.

The statement told all Zimbabweans “hosting or accommodating” foreign journalists to advise them to apply for accreditation, and warned those found hosting unaccredited journalists would be prosecuted under the country's draconian media law.

The statement warned even accredited journalists like Peta Thornycroft of the Daily Telegraph that they would be expelled if they reported negatively on Zimbabwe.

The government again dismissed news reports that Angolan troops were headed to Zimbabwe to bolster its security forces, and others saying Zimbabweans are piling up at the border with South Africa in an attempt to flee the worsening crisis.

For perspective on Harare's latest threats against journalists, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned media experts Takura Zhangaza, senior program manager with the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe, and Patrick Smith, editor of the London-based newsletter Africa Confidential.

Smith said he doubts the threats will have much impact - in particular because foreign media organizations draw heavily on local Zimbabwe journalists for information.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu could not be reached for comment.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...