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Aljazeera's Zimbabwe Venture Opportunity For Network, Test For Harare

Eyebrows were raised in August, when it was announced that the Arab-owned news network Aljazeera International would open a bureau in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Aljazeera managers said Zimbabwe provided “unique access to this part of Southern Africa.” The Qatar-based organization in fact is the only global news channel licensed to operate in Zimbabwe. Acting Information Minister Paul Mangwana said Aljazeera had received no special treatment. Whether that is accurate is open to debate – the British Broadcasting Corporation has been barred from Harare for years.

Nonetheless, observers say the license approval from Harare doesn’t mean Aljazeera, which has come in for criticism by top U.S. officials who have also branded Zimbabwe an "outpost of tyranny," will in return oblige Harare with favorable coverage.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

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