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Zimbabwean Editor Arrested Over Report

  • Peta Thornycroft

The editor of Zimbabwe's only privately-owned Sunday newspaper has been detained. This is the second time in as many weeks a journalist from Zimbabwe's Standard Newspaper has been arrested.

The editor of The Standard newspaper handed himself over to police Tuesday when he heard that the officers were looking for him.

Police say Nevanji Madanhire is wanted for questioning in connection with charges of communicating falsehoods. Police say the charges are in connection with a report written by one of the paper's reporters, Nqobani Ndlovu in Bulawayo.

This news report claimed the police were recruiting pro-Zanu-PF veterans of the 1970's liberation war and retired officers before possible elections next year. The reporter spent eight days in custody before he was granted bail by the High Court last week.

Lawyers attending to Madanhire say he is being charged with laws that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison or a fine.

Zimbabwe's three leaders, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara signed a political agreement 27 months ago that led to the formation of an inclusive government in February last year. The agreement includes a section on media freedoms which the leaders signed.

Many journalists were arrested, harassed and forced to flee by the previous Zanu-PF government.

The state media, newspapers, radio and television were supposed to be free with the onset of the political agreement. One privately-owned daily newspaper has since begun publishing, but the electronic media remains firmly in control of Zanu PF, according to the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe.

Political tensions are rising in Zimbabwe as elections may be held next year. More than 150 of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's supporters were killed and hundreds wounded during violence during the last elections in 2008.

The precise charges against the journalists from The Standard are that they sought to "undermine public confidence in a law enforcement agency."