Statement by the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) – New clamp down on foreign media in Zimbabwe
18 February 2010
The SA National Editors’ Forum is concerned at a new clamp down on foreign and local media in Zimbabwe despite promises by the government that the country’s repressive media laws were under review and would be amended to restore media freedom.
Several incidents of repression and harassment of journalists and other association with the media have occurred since the beginning of the year.
A Mexican journalist, despite have been given appropriate accreditation by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, was arrested by state security agents on February 12 while attempting to film tourist attractions in the town of Masvingo. He was reportedly released after the Tourism Minister intervened.
On January 18, freelance journalist Andrison Manyere was reportedly arrested while covering a demonstration for better education by the organization Women and Men of Zimbabwe (WOZA) though he was released the same day.
On February 11, action was taken against the distributors in Zimbabwe of the independent Zimbabwean newspaper based in London. Two directors of the Zimbabwean’s new distribution company, Adquest, were arrested for publishing “false statements’’ allegedly contained in an article in an edition of the paper published in January. They were charged under Section 31 (a) (iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, with publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the State. Earlier they had been detained but after questioning and producing papers showing the paper had been legally imported were released. No date has been set for their appearance in court.
On February 16 Lovemore Manjonjo, a staff writer of the African Workers Organiser, a monthly produced by a communist activity group in South Africa, was arrested in Harare and copies of the publication he had in his possession were confiscated. He was released and warned to appear in court on February 22 on a charge of assaulting a policeman. He claimed he had been manhandled.
Another journalist, freelancer Stanley Kwenda, who received a death threat from a man claiming to be a police officer fled the country. The death threat, according to the Zimbabwean newspaper, was linked to an article published in that paper.
Sanef protests at these attempts by the Zimbabwean authorities to stifle reporting and the flow of information about the country both internally and for foreign consumption. It calls on the Zimbabwe government to respect the principles under which the unity government was formed – one of those being the removal of restrictions on the media and the restoration of Press Freedom – and to end the persistent harassment of the media.
Issued by: SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)