Zimbabwe: Journalists Released

press release

Journalists Ndamu Sandu and Godwin Mangudya, who were arrested in Harare on 19 July 2006, were released together with members of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), after spending a night and almost an entire day in police cells at the Harare Central Police station.

The journalists were released on 20 July, together with 17 members of the CHRA, after they each paid an admission of guilt fine of $250,000 (approx. US$2.50) under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

BACKGROUND:

Sandu, who works for the privately owned weekly "Zimbabwe Standard", and Mangudya, a journalist formerly with the banned "Daily News", were arrested and detained at the Harare Central Police station while covering demonstrations to press for the removal of the Chairperson of the commission running the affairs of Harare Municipality.

CHRA organised the demonstrations to press for the removal of the commission running the affairs of the capital city to pave way for the convening of mayoral and council elections. The commission is led by Sekesai Makwavarara.

Harare has been without a mayor since the dismissal of elected mayor Elias Mudzuri in 2004. Mudzuri was elected on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket. No date has been set for the elections to choose a mayor for Harare.

Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo last week said elections would likely be held in 2007.

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