25 October 2018

Mozambique: Misa Calls for Legal Action Against Moatize Mayor

Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has urged the Tete provincial attorney's office to prosecute the mayor of the mining town of Moatize, Carlos Portimao, for threatening to assault a journalist.

Portimao was running for a further term of office on the ticket of the ruling Frelimo Party in the municipal elections held on 10 October.

According to a MISA release, Portimao threatened violence against journalist Fungai Caetano, who is the correspondent in Moatize for the Zitamar News Agency. Portimao objected to Caetano sharing, on his Facebook page, an item from the "MOZnews" portal, in which Portimao was accused of assaulting the district director of the Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), Julio Baulane, during the count of the election results in Moatize.

Caetano says that Portimao threatened him over the phone. He took the precaution of recording the phone call, and that recording is circulating on the Internet.

In the recording, a voice, believed to be that of Portimao, can be heard accusing Caetano of being the author of the "MOZmews" piece. Caetano denied this, saying he did not write the piece, but merely shared it.

The voice can then be heard saying "I'm warning you - I'm going to give you a real beating. You don't know me. I don't like games. You published it".

Despite Caetano's attempts to explain that he did not write the item, the voice continued "You can't play around with me, do you hear? I'm going to give you a beating".

In contact with MISA-Mozambique, Cetano said he feared for his safety, since Portimao might carry out his threat at any moment.

The MISA statement strongly condemned the threat. It said "threats and insults to media professionals should deserve the strongest condemnation from the government, particularly when they are made by individuals who have public responsibilities".

MISA urged Frelimo to censure Portimao publicly for his behaviour, while the Tete Provincial Attorney's Office, should open legal proceedings against him.

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