20 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Moyo Speaks On Sunday Mail Editor's Arrest

Photo: The Herald
Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi.

INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo on Friday spoke out for the first time on the arrest of Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi.

Moyo ruled out any sinister motive in Thursday's dramatic arrest which has sparked fear among the country's media of a renewed crackdown against journalists.

Kudzayi is widely seen as an appointee of Moyo, who earlier this month came under fire from President Robert Mugabe during a Zanu PF politburo meeting for appointing previously hostile editors to head state media institutions.

"Nothing special is happening here, depending on how one looks at it", Moyo said in Bulawayo.

"Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited is a law abiding organisation and will co-operate fully with the police. The law is taking its course therefore matters will be resolved legally."

Police on Thursday were also looking for Dumisani Muleya, editor of the privately owned weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, who was forced to go into hiding, heightening fears of an offensive by state security agencies against the media.

The arrest of Kudzayi is widely thought to be linked to factionalism in the ruling party, and is an attempt to keep journalists in check over their coverage of these fights which have plagued the party ahead of its elective congress in December, according to party insiders.

Foster Dongozi, president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) on Friday called for the state to guarantee media freedom and warned that any renewed hostilities would undo recent engagements to heal the rift between the media and government.

"We would like to urge the Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee our safety and protection. ZUJ calls on the government to immediately reveal the reasons for detaining Kudzayi and why Muleya is being hunted.

"We also demand assurances that the burglary at Mduduzi Mathuthu's (Chronicle editor) house had nothing to do with the unfortunate developments taking place", said Mr Dongozi.

An ally of Mugabe, Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa, recently proposed the "criminalisation" and arrest of journalists over any stories published which speculate on Mugabe's successor.

Kudzayi's Hillside home in Harare and his office at Herald House were raided and laptops, cellphones and hard-drives were confiscated.

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed that Kudzayi was being held by the law and order section unit. "The charges are to do with publications that he did."

A website which Kudzayi ran while in the UK, where he was previously based before relocating to Zimbabwe last year, published a story which claimed that Bona Mugabe, the only daughter of the 90-year-old Mr Mugabe, had been raped while studying in Malaysia in 2010.

It is speculated that this online news article is what led to his arrest.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Newspapers, the publishers of the Sunday Mail, said that by last night they had not yet ascertained the exact details of charges against their employee.

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