- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Police invoked sweeping new security laws yesterday, firing tear gas to disperse several hundred opposition supporters gathering to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa.
In another sign that the government's campaign against dissent is heating up, a state-run newspaper reported heavy fees would be imposed on journalists seeking to report from Zimbabwe.
After firing tear gas, police charged the crowd with clubs at the gathering held at a public garden in Harare to commemorate the role youth have played in the fight for democracy in southern Africa.
Tendai Biti, a legislator with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, vowed to keep up the struggle for democracy in this troubled southern African country.
Last week state-run media reported that President Robert Mugabe put security forces on high alert to crush any mass demonstrations that might call for a rerun of presidential elections held in March, in which Mr. Mugabe was declared the winner despite the condemnation of observer groups who said the vote was rigged.
Foreign governments and human rights groups have voiced concern over a sustained crackdown on dissent that has targeted lawyers, journalists and human rights groups.
Severe new security and media laws were passed shortly before Mr. Mugabe's re-election in what human rights groups say is a bid to silence opposition to his rule.
The government-run Sunday Mail reported that as part of the new media law, journalists have to pay large fees to be allowed to keep working. Zimbabwean newspapers will have to pay $12,700 for their licenses. Local journalists working for foreign media organizations will have to pay $1,050, foreign news agencies will have to pay $1,200. Those working for foreign media will have to pay in foreign currency.
As the Zimbabwean dollar continues to tumble, the move is a way for the government to make money.




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