President of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) Gavin
O'Reilly asked South African president Thabo Mbeki to urgently deal with
violations of press freedom in Zimbabwe,
writes Jackie Bischof.
O'Reilly was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 60th
World Associated Newspaper Congress and 14th World Editors Forum in Cape Town, South
Africa, at which Mbeki was giving a welcome
O'Reilly, who said that he expected no "Christmas cards" as
a result of his request, expressed concern at the lack of press freedom in
several African countries, most notably Zimbabwe.
He asked the president to use his "considerable influence
and abiding sense of justice to rectify flagrant abuses that happen in the
O'Reilly also said that WAN was "particularly aggrieved"
that the African Union's African Peer Review Mechanism did not "consider the
fostering of a free press as a key requirement for good governance." He asked
Mbeki to ensure that this condition was put on the agenda.
In his opening speech, Mbeki said that the fact that the
Peer Review Mechanism did not see media freedom as a condition for governance
an "oversight", and said that this issue would be addressed. He also addressed
the issue of press freedom in Gambia,
saying, "With this sensitive issue we must act upon it, and not just make good