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Newspaper vendor threatened, copies seized
June 20, 2013

Emmanuel Mhorombe, a newspaper vendor with the privately-owned NewsDay was on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 reportedly threatened with unspecified action by suspected Zanu-PF supporters in Harare’s high-density suburb of Mbare.

The incident occurred at the Alpha Media Holdings (NewsDay publishers) newsstand where the vendor operates.

Mhorombe suspects the youths were angered by a lead story headlined, ‘Coalition against Mugabe grows’, published in the NewsDay edition of the same day. Zimbabwe president, Robert Mugabe, who is in an uneasy power-sharing agreement with two opposition factions, leads Zanu-PF.

The youths allegedly confiscated 40 copies of the newspaper, which they are said to have taken to the local Zanu-PF offices in Mbare before daring Mhorombe to follow them.

The youths reportedly told Mhorombe: “We are now doing what is best for our land. We do not want to see all these other papers. We are now taking them and we will tear all of them. If you think you can take us on, then follow us.”

The matter has been reported at Matapi police station in Mbare, but efforts to locate the youths at their Zanu-PF offices have so far failed.

MISA-Zimbabwe position

These wanton acts of lawlessness constitute a serious breach on the citizens’ constitutional right to access information from diverse sources of information and should thus be condemned in the strongest of terms.

Access to information is a fundamental universal right critical to holding accountable those in authority as well as enabling citizens to make informed choices. This becomes even more critical ahead of Zimbabwe’s general elections. Supporters of political parties should be educated on the folly of destroying or confiscating newspapers.

The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) urges political parties to advise these unruly elements that they are not only doing a great disservice to themselves, but are unwittingly curbing the free flow of information which will result in them failing to acquire knowledge and information on topical issues being articulated by their respective leaders.

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