London: Former Zimbabwean cricketer Henry Olonga has revealed the dangers of shackling the UK Press as Lord Justice Leveson unveils the first part of his report into Press standards next week.
In his column in The Sun, Henry, who played 30 Test matches for Zimbabwe, talks about the perils of not having a free Press.
“I know some of the British Press ran stories that were critical of Mugabe. For many years, the BBC was banned from Zimbabwe. Journalists had to try to enter the country posing as tourists. But nobody in Zimbabwe was able to read about the killings. From 1980 until the mid-1990s the only widely-circulated newspaper was a state-run mouthpiece,” he wrote.
Henry said that everything announced from the mouth-piece were all lies about the supposedly fantastic achievements of ZANU-PF, Mugabe’s party, and “was spin-doctoring on an epic scale.”
“There were short-wave radio broadcasts in the rural regions where people who suffered abuse were able to speak out because the broadcasts somehow went under the government radar. But there can be a price to pay if you want to expose a corrupt government,” he said.
Hery, therefore, called on the existence of free press, as he says, “it keeps people accountable and it keeps governments transparent.”
“Without a free Press, the expenses scandal in the UK would never have been exposed. I had an inquisitive mind but discovered a lot of stuff about Zimbabwe only in my twenties because there were so few sources of information. The internet explosion and mobile phones helped,” he said.
“A free Press is essential in any democracy,” he concluded.