The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Falsehood Peddlers Risk Prosecution - AG

THOSE who peddle falsehoods about the country now risk prosecution as the Government invokes laws to enforce penalties. Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana yesterday said laws to prosecute such individuals and organisations were available, but they had not been used. He said the era of tolerance for such behaviour had passed.

Mr Tomana made the remarks while addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference review meeting in Harare.

"We need to upgrade our law enforcement. Things are now going to be done differently. That level of tolerance is suspended," he said.

"In trying to be tolerant, there has been a very tolerant manner of responding to crime.

"Those from the civil society have gone on record saying those laws that protect us (the country) are bad laws and should be ignored.

"We, actually, as a country have more than enough laws to protect us against all forms of violations against our interests.

"Our economy is protected and anybody who threatens our economic interests violates the law."

He said there was reluctance on the part of Government to fully enforce the laws as an act of benevolence.

Mr Tomana's remarks appeared targeted at the civil society, some of whose members are at the forefront of derailing the selling of diamonds from Chiadzwa through the dissemination of falsehoods.

Mr Tomana said civil society was breaching the country's laws under the guise of democracy.

Western-sponsored NGOs operating in the country and the local media have been peddling falsehoods with negative effects on the economy, but were not being held responsible.

The civil society's onslaught began when Government embarked on the fast-track land reform programme at the turn of the millennium.

It worsened with the discovery of diamonds at Chiadzwa from which Western countries were excluded.

In a bid to frustrate the certification of the Chiadzwa diamonds by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, some NGOs circulated dossiers and used international platforms claiming that soldiers killed hundreds of innocent citizens in Marange at the height of illegal mining.

The reports, which were unsubstantiated, are derailing the country's efforts to trade in its gems without hindrance, with Western countries often citing alleged human rights abuses as some of the reasons why Zimbabwe must not be allowed to sell its gems.

The High Court recently permitted a local company, Vakakora Capital (Pvt) Ltd, to sue the Daily News and NewsDay for writing stories alleging political violence in the country.

Vakakora argued that the reports published in May last year were false and discouraged a foreign investor from partnering with the company, resulting in a loss of business worth US$250 million.

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