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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
still being harassed as elections loom
May 25, 2013
The new Zimbabwean
that President Robert Mugabe promulgated three days ago guarantees
more democracy and freedom of expression, on paper at least, and
Reporters Without Borders hopes that it will reduce the negative
effect of the draconian laws currently in effect.
As a result
of Zimbabwe’s repressive legislation, criminal charges are
often brought against journalists just for doing their job. This
has been seen yet again in recent cases of arrests and harassment.
The new constitution
the way for elections that have been awaited for years. President
Mugabe wants them held as soon as possible and his party, Zanu-PF,
thinks they could be held on 29 June. But the power-sharing
government’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai of the
opposition MDC, wants several essential reforms adopted first, including
media freedom reform.
from highlighting the disagreements and obstacles that have existed
at the highest level ever since the power-sharing government’s
formation four years ago, the conditions posed by Tsvangirai draw
attention to the urgent need for news providers to be guaranteed
the right to work freely and safely,” Reporters Without Borders
constitution is a step forward but no satisfactory, transparent
election is possible if journalists are prevented from working properly.
In both Harare and in the provinces, Zimbabwean journalists, especially
those who work for the privately-owned media, are the victims of
harassment campaigns while journalists with the state-owned media
are controlled by the government.”
On World Press
Freedom Day, on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders pointed out that
Mugabe is still on its list of 39 “Predators
of Freedom of Expression” and drew up an indictment accusing
him of suppressing freedom of expression, exercising strict control
over the state media, constantly harassing the print media and being
the architect of an extremely repressive media legislation.
In one of the
latest examples of abusive arrests, Dumisani Muleya, the editor
of the Zimbabwe Independent weekly, Owen Gagare, one of his reporters,
and the newspaper’s secretary were arrested
on 7 May for publishing “lies” in a front-page story
by Gagare in the 26 April issue.
All three were
held for seven hours in a Harare police station before being released.
The two journalists were interrogated about their sources for the
story, which said Tsvangirai had met secretly with senior military
officers ahead of the coming elections.
The police were
meanwhile threatening another Zimbabwe Independent reporter, Dingilizwe
Ntuli, with a jail sentence for an article criticizing Harare’s
newspaper NewsDay has also been the target of police harassment.
Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, a NewsDay reporter based in Masvingo, 300
km south of Harare, was summoned and questioned by the local police
in February about one of her articles.
Daily News editor
Stanley Gama was summoned to Masvingo the following month and asked
to reveal his sources for an article about a resumption of terrorist
activities in the area. Gama is currently accused of libeling a
Zanu-PF representative in a report about the alleged rape of an
and interrogated and sometimes prosecuted, independent media personnel
are hounded by the national police, the security forces and the
Central Intelligence Organization, which follow orders from Mugabe
and his aides.
dangers and repressive legislation
The two Zimbabwe
Independent journalists have been formally charged by the police
with “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial
to the state,” which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years
in prison and the possibility of a heavy fine.
defamation legislation allows individuals to bring complaints against
media and journalists before the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC),
which monitors the media. Under the 2002 Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the ZMC
can close media that act “imprudently.” This provision
is above all used when journalists cover cases of alleged corruption.
minister Webster Shamu reiterated the government’s position
on media freedom and the protection of journalists at a news conference
at Zanu-PF headquarters on 10 May: “I want to repeat that
this country came about through the barrel of a gun. It cannot be
taken by a pen, never.”
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