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Mbeki & Mugabe to discuss threat to Zimbabwean judiciary & media

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February 26, 2001 


SOMERSET WEST, South Africa- (AP) - President Thabo Mbeki said Sunday he is planning to meet Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to discuss South African concerns over threats to the Zimbabwean judiciary and media.

"We continue to be concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe," Mbeki told reporters.

"Some of the things that have been happening recently are to all of us as South Africans of very serious concern: things that are affecting the judges, affecting the press, apart from earlier questions to do with the land redistribution," he said.

He did not specify a date for the meeting, but said "we need to get together quite quickly."

At a time of its worst economic crisis since independence, Mugabe has attacked the foreign press and said he would fire judges deemed biased in favor of white landowners.

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court recently ruled the government's land redistribution program illegal. Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay agreed to retire earlier this month when the government said it could not guarantee his safety after ruling party militants had threatened violence against judges.

The government has also deported two international correspondents, arguing their reporting was biased. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has said authorities are restructuring the accreditation process for foreign journalists.

Political violence and lawlessness linked to seizures of white-owned farms has scared off donors and foreign investors. Ruling party militants and squatters are illegally occupying 1,700 white-owned farms.

Mugabe's party won a narrow majority in the June parliamentary elections, which were preceded by a violent campaign in which 32 people - most of them opposition supporters - were killed.

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