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Zimbabwe Police Threaten Journalists


Authorities in Zimbabwe are reported to be threatening local and foreign journalists with arrest. The threats come despite the formation of the new government in Zimbabwe that includes both main political parties.

Journalists in the country say they are still being harassed and intimidated by the former ruling party, the Zanu PF. In one case, police allegedly went to the offices of the weekly newspaper The Independent, looking for the editor and news editor.

Late last week, four accredited journalists from Spain were reportedly threatened with arrest when they went to interview a white commercial farmer who has been stopped from harvesting his export fruit crop. The journalists say they were threatened by Zanu PF members loyal to Nathan Shamuyarira, a former long-serving information minister for the party.

The Spanish embassy intervened through Zimbabwe's foreign affairs department. Police were sent to the farm and the four journalists from Spain's TV-e were able to leave.

On Saturday, several members of the Law and Order section of the Harare Central Police station went to the offices of the weekly Independent. They said they wanted to arrest editor Vincent Kahiya and news editor Constantine Chimakure.

The Independent ran a report last Friday quoting from an indictment against 18 human rights and Movement for Democratic Change activists picked up last year, who are now charged with plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Dumisani Muleya assistant editor of The Independent called the harassment "reprehensible" and "outrageous." He said it "signifies the continued repression of the media, when police want to arrest journalists over documents in the public domain."

He said it is ironic this should take place during a government-backed media conference at Lake Kariba. Most Zimbabwe journalists and media organizations boycotted the conference because photo-journalist Shadreck Manyere is being held in a hospital recovering from injuries he said were incurred after his abduction and detention at a secret location last year.

MDC Spokesman Nelson Chamisa condemned the ongoing "intimidation" of media in Zimbabwe. He said Zimbabwe needs a free media to bolster efforts to steer the country towards democracy.

Assistant police inspector Wayne Bvudzijena said he did not know of the raid on the Independent or of the harassment of Spanish journalists. He also said he could not say when any of those who are accused by the MDC of murdering its members in the past decade might be arrested.

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