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Stop media personnel abuses
Youth Forum
December 07, 2011

Zimbabwe's police continued with their irrational persecution of media personnel on Tuesday when they raided the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) offices and arrested MMPZ Projects Coordinator Andy Moyse and seized more than 100 CDs and DVDs 'containing Gukurahundi Information'.

Three other MMPZ officers, advocacy officers Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda, and the Gwanda chairperson of MMPZ'S Public Information Rights Forum Committee Gilbert Mabusa were also arrested in Harare on Monday and remain in custody at Gwanda Police Station. The three were arrested under POSA and are also being charged under the terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for "participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry" for a civic education meeting they held in Gwanda last month.

The persecution of journalists and other media personnel has been on the increase recently with The Daily News editor, Stanley Gama and reporter Xolisani Ncube arrested last week. Last month Nevanji Madanhire, the editor of The Standard and reporter Nqaba Matshazi were also arrested on sham charges.

These arrests make it very difficult for the man on the street to trust the government anymore, especially now that they are granting licenses to 'new' media houses in the broadcasting industry. The independence of such broadcasters comes under serious scrutiny from the public, especially with controversial granting of license to organizations like state publisher ZimPapers, notorious for being overly partisan.

The Youth Forum, currently coming up with a plan to make information accessible to youths in marginalized areas in order to improve the free flow of news, ideas and information, would like to strongly condemn the incarceration of private and independent media personnel and this deplorable situation raises obvious questions over charges being concocted out of politically motivated harassment. There just isn't enough information to suggest timely processes of evidence and investigation have taken place prior to all the arrests.

We urge the regime to cease the arbitrary detention of selected citizens on sham charges, and repeat our call for the revision of laws such as AIPPA and POSA. It is important to restore the right to meet in public places, to organize, to share opinions, ideas and express them no matter how critical or unpopular they may be, as this is an essential aspect of public life. As the regime leaders continue to target citizens who express ideas and opinions that do not support their views, a culture of compliance and silence is being manipulated and misrepresented to future generations as the 'Zimbabwean' way.

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