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arrested, independent dailies harassed in return to bad old ways
May 13, 2011
Borders is concerned about Mzwandile Ndlovu, a journalist held by
the police in the western town of Hwange since his arrest on 10
May, and about the constant harassment of employees of two independent
newspapers, The Daily News and NewsDay, by police, intelligence
officials and members of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
Zanu-PF's continuing use of such outdated methods as intimidation,
physical attacks and arrests to silence its media critics,"
the press freedom organization said. "Ndlovu was just covering
a matter of public interest, without voicing any opinion. His arrest
is unacceptable and we call for his immediate release. The independent
newspapers that recently obtained licences must also be able to
work in complete freedom and their reporters must not be harassed."
This spate of
incidents involving the media comes amid more tension between Zanu-PF
and its partner in the ruling coalition, Morgan Tsvangirai's
MDC, and yesterday's suspension of the constitutional process
that must precede a badly needed overhaul of the media law and the
organization of future elections.
A reporter for
Weekly Agenda (a news bulletin published by the civil society organization
Bulawayo Agenda), Ndlovu was arrested
after being summoned to police headquarters in Hwange and was charged
under section 31 of the Criminal
Law Code and Reform Act with reporting a fictitious story.
The charge was
prompted by a 23 April article about the Organ on National Healing,
Reconciliation and Integration. It said a meeting between the Organ
and a coalition of organizations that was supposed to take place
at the nearby Victoria Falls was cancelled because the main participants,
Vice-President John Nkomo and the commission's co-president
Sekai Holland, failed to turn up.
the two events, it also reported that MDC member Moses Mzila Ndlovu,
a minister in the national reconciliation government, was arrested
the same day in Lupane. The police have refused to comment on the
Alice Murwisi was attacked by young Zanu-PF members on 28 April
while selling copies of The Daily News, an independent newspaper
that returned to the newsstands on 18 March after a
Two days before
the attack, one of the newspaper's senior employees, Trymore
Zingwe, received an anonymous threatening phone call. At the same
time, former information minister Jonathan Moyo, who together with
President Mugabe was responsible for the repressive 2002 media law
known as the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), is suing
the paper for 60,000 dollars for reprinting old articles about his
expulsion from Zanu-PF in 2005.
raided on the night
of 25 April by members of the Central Intelligence Organization,
who confiscated hard disks and 11 computers. Editor Brian Mangwende
not only had his computer taken, his office was also ransacked and
damaged. "This is a calculated act of criminality designed
to paralyze the operations of the country's fastest-growing
newspaper," he said. A few days before the raid, NewsDay ran
an article headlined "It's time to rest" that
called on Mugabe to stand down.
were also threatened by Zanu-PF members in a Harare suburb on 12
March and copies of the newspaper
were damaged on 2 March.
Augustine Chihuri's recent warnings to news media that publish
articles "inciting violence and anarchy" are not reassuring.
is on the list of Predators of Press Freedom that Reporters Without
Borders released on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. Read his profile:
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