One of the brave activists I was privleged to meet when I visited Harare a few months ago was Frank Chikowore, an independent journalist who’d previously worked for the Weekly Times, before the paper was forced out of Zimbabwe by the Mugabe government. Frank was interested in the potential to speak and write freely on weblog, but was concerned about his ability to make a living as a journalist while giving his words away for free.
I was happy to hear from Frank this morning – he’s launched a blog, Zimscoop, and is taking no prisoners in his recent writings: his most recent post takes Media and Information Commission chairperson Tafataona Mahoso to task for a new set of fees applied to journalists who don’t (or can’t) renew their formal government accreditation.
Many excellent Zimbabwean bloggers are writing under psuedonyms because they’re aware that Zimbabwean press law, including the Public Order and Security Bill, can have extremely dire consequences for writers seen to be upsetting public order. Frank’s taking a very brave step by speaking publicly on these issues and using his real name. I hope he’s promptly rewarded with piles of work freelancing for international news services, and that all of us who care about Zimbabwe keep a close eye on his work so we can make a lot of noise should Frank’s writing land him in hot water.