NAIROBI June 16, 2011 - Staff
members of Equatoguinean state television TVGE and state security on June 11, 2011
deleted video footage of a German TV team in Malabo, the country’s capital.
ZDF is Germany’s biggest public TV channel, broadcasting the upcoming FIFA
Women’s World Cup in Germany starting on June 26th, with the Equatorial Guinean team
competing in the World Cup for the first time.
ZDF was granted travel visas by the Ministry of National Security. Being
supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of
Information the team filmed stories on women’s football as well as the general
situation of Equatorial Guinea including new
investments by the government into infrastructure, local traditions and daily
life in Malabo.
This tiny West African state is not featured much in
Germany or other European news and this was an opportunity to showcase the
ZDF’s Africa correspondent Jorg Brase also interviewed the country’s only
opposition MP, Plácido Mico, and human rights lawyer Fabian Nsue Nguema in a
bid to understand the dynamics of a country ruled by one man, Teodoro Obiang
Nguema Mbasogo, for the past 32 years. President Obiang is the current Chairman of the African Union.
On their last night the German TV crew were ordered by the director of state
television TVGE, Teobaldo Nchaso Matomba, to hand over their complete video
footage. Matomba claimed the team did not have proper accreditation by the Ministry of Information, despite the support they had
received from various ministries in their filming. Jorg Brase appeared on the main news after interviewing Ruslan Obiang Nsue, the president’s
son and State Secretary of Sports. Brase was also invited as a studio guest in
a TVGE talk show on football.
The German TV crew were interviewed on their filming mission in a manner akin
to police interrogation. They were accused of trying to present the country in
a negative way by interviewing Mico and Nsue Nguema. They were escorted by various personnel, presumably state security, and
treated like prisoners. Matomba claimed that the German crew was just permitted
to report on Equatoguinean football. Even pictures of children playing football in the slums got deleted with authorities
saying the footage cast the country in a bad light by showing poverty.
Brase objected this deleting of foreign video footage as a violation of the freedom of the press. He argued that talking to all sides
including government, ordinary people, the opposition and civil society was the
best way to show case the country without bias and is a mark of proper journalism.
His objections fell on deaf ears and the team was escorted to the airport the next morning and sent back to Kenya. The act
of censoring or harassing foreign and local journalists is not new in
The ZDF team was left with more than half of their footage
deleted or confiscated.ZDF German TV’s head office in Mainz, Germany officially
protested against this act of state censorship in a letter to the Equatoguinean ambassador in Berlin.