JANUARY 14, 2004
Itai Dzamara, The Independent
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Dzamara, a reporter with the Harare-based independent weekly The Independent,
and the paper's general manager, Raphael Khumalo, were arrested after
presenting themselves to police at Harare Central Police Station. Both
were summoned on January 13 to appear at the station for questioning the
The arrests followed the publication of a story in the January 9 edition
of The Independent co-authored by Dzamara alleging that Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe had commandeered an Air Zimbabwe plane for his
trip to East Asia, thereby stranding passengers who were slated to fly
on the plane between Harare and London. The piece also quoted a source
saying that the plane carried containers for storage of goods Mugabe might
acquire on his trip.
Dzamara was charged with criminal defamation before being released the
day of his arrest. Khumalo was released the same day without charge.
Dzamara will likely appear with three other Independent journalists
in court on January 29. Police arrested Independent Managing Editor
Iden Wetherell, News Editor Vincent Kahiya, and reporter Dumisani Muleya
on Saturday, January 10, also in connection with the January 9 article.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the report as "blasphemous,"
saying it was a "deliberate falsehood calculated to bring the office of
the president into disrepute," the BBC reported.
Muleya, who co-authored the piece with Dzamara, said that during interrogation
by police, he was asked to reveal the story's sources but refused. The
three journalists were charged with criminal defamation. On Monday, January
12, they were released on 20,000 Zimbabwean Dollars (US$25) bail each
after appearing in court. Their next court hearing is scheduled for January
Meanwhile, on January 13, the state-owned daily The Herald published
an open letter from Media and Information Commission (MIC) head Tafataona
Mahoso to Wetherell accusing The Independent of racism for publishing
a letter to the editor claiming that Zimbabweans are stupid and comparing
them to wild animals. Mahoso concluded the letter by writing, "All publishers
and editors in Zimbabwe should consider this MIC statement as a warning
to them as well and not just to the Zimbabwe Independent."
The Independent editor disputed the claim that the column's remarks
were racist, saying the letter was a legitimate part of the national discourse
on the country's political and economic crisis. Wetherell said he believes
that the MIC could use the racism charge as a pretext to deny registration
to the publication or accreditation to its journalists.
MARCH 19, 2004
Posted: April 9, 2004
Simon Bright, Zim Media
Bright, an independent filmmaker based in Zimbabwe, was arrested by police
at Harare International Airport when he was about to board an Air Zimbabwe
flight to London.
Police asked Bright, a British citizen with permanent residence in Zimbabwe,
whether he worked for foreign media and if he had been involved in the
production of a documentary for the BBC program "Panorama."
The Panorama program, titled "Secrets of the Camps," was broadcast on
February 29 and reported on secret government-sanctioned camps that had
been opened across Zimbabwe to train youths to torture and kill political
opponents of the ruling regime. The government denied that the camps were
used for torture training.
Bright denied any involvement in the production of the documentary.
Earlier in the day, police had raided Bright's offices, confiscating hundreds
of videotapes. When arrested at the airport, he was carrying a tape to
clients in London who had commissioned him to make a documentary about
a game park in Zimbabwe. According to Bright's attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa,
Bright was questioned about the tape and its contents even though it was
made with the participation of the governments of Zimbabwe, Mozambique,
and South Africa.
Bright was released from custody on the afternoon of March 22. He was
charged with communicating "a statement which is wholly or materially
false" under the Public Order and Security Act. The offense carries a
sentence of up to five years in prison, a hefty fine, or both.
It is unclear why Bright was charged, and Mtetwa said that because the
journalist was not arraigned, it is unlikely that the case will be pursued.
MAY 3, 2004
Updated: July 22, 2004
The Zimbabwean government's Media and Information Commission (MIC) threatened
to cancel the license of the independent weekly The Tribune.
Africa Tribune Newspapers (ATN), the company that publishes The
Tribune, received a letter from the MIC saying that the paper would
be shuttered for licensing violations. MIC chairman Dr. Tafataona Mahoso
claimed in the letter that ATN had violated Section 67 of the repressive
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which requires
all media companies to notify the MIC of changes in ownership, name, form,
and frequency of publications.
Ownership of The Tribune changed hands in March, when the
newspaper's management bought out the former owners. Publication frequency
also changed in January when ATN merged its two weekly publications into
In accordance with the law, Mahoso stated in the letter that ATN would
be given seven days to show cause why the newspaper's license should not
Local sources said that AIPPA is vague regarding how media companies are
supposed to notify the MIC about the changes listed in Section 67. ATN
acting general manager Nevanji Madanhire told CPJ that The Tribune
published an editorial announcing the new ownership immediately after
the change, and argued that this should have served as notification since
the newspaper sends a copy of every edition to the MIC offices. He also
said that the change in the newspaper's publication frequency was publicized
in January in the newspaper.
According to journalists in the capital, Harare, in a May 5 press statement,
Mahoso acknowledged that the MIC had erred in its previous statement and
indicated that the ATN will remain registered. A week later, however,
the MIC was still investigating The Tribune and asked that the
newspaper's management forward them documentation of the changes. Tribune
staff have since sent the MIC the documentation.
Journalists in Harare said they believe that the MIC action may be aimed
at Tribune publisher Kindness Paradza. Paradza, a recently elected
MP for the ruling ZANU-PF, criticized Zimbabwe's media laws in parliament
in March, saying that their restrictive nature was hampering investment
in the sector and that they should be revised.
Paradza was suspended from the Mashonaland West provincial chapter of
ZANU-PF on April 27 based on charges of undermining party and government
programs and policies by serving foreign and enemy interests, the state-owned
Herald reported. The charges followed allegations that Paradza
was seeking financial backing for The Tribune in Britain
and had consulted with the owners of the defunct Daily News for
Under AIPPA, foreigners are prohibited from owning shares in Zimbabwean
media companies unless their ownership predated the legislation.
Paradza denies both allegations and told CPJ that he had visited the U.K.
recently to survey possibilities of distributing The Tribune
to London's large Zimbabwean community, and that he has never met with
the owners of the Daily News.
Sources in Zimbabwe said that the recent threats against The Tribune
and its publisher have also come in reprisal for an article the paper
ran in its April 23-29 edition. The article alleged that Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo and other Cabinet ministers had ordered police to expropriate
a lucrative farm for use by the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency,
but that the ministers really intended to seize it for themselves.
According to the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Moyo called The
Tribune story a lie in a May 1 statement.
According to sources in Harare, on June 10, MIC Chairman Tafataona Mahoso
said in a press statement that The Tribune would be closed for
one year. The statement claimed that African Tribune Newspapers (ATN),
the company that publishes The Tribune, had violated Section 67
of AIPPA by failing to notify the commission of changes in ownership,
name, and frequency of publication. The statement also alleged that the
newspaper had employed an unaccredited journalist. Under the AIPPA, all
journalists must be accredited by the MIC to work.
The newspaper's management said that the unaccredited journalist they
allegedly employed was actually a consultant employed by The Tribune's
Though The Tribune ran its June 11 edition, the management stopped
publishing the paper the following week.
Paradza challenged the MIC's suspension of The Tribune's license
in court, arguing that the MIC had shown bias and that the year suspension
was disproportionate to the newspaper's alleged breaches of the law.
The Harare High Court denied The Tribune's appeal on July 21, saying
the MIC had acted "within its discretion."
MAY 19, 2004
May 20, 2004
Bornwell Chakaodza, The Standard
Valentine Maponga, The Standard
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Editor Chakaodza and reporter Maponga, both with the independent weekly
The Standard, were charged with "publishing false statements prejudicial
to the State" under Section 15 of the draconian Public Order and Security
At least six police officers raided The Standard offices in the
morning looking for Maponga, who was out on assignment, Assistant Editor
David Madunda told CPJ. When Maponga returned in the early afternoon,
he and Chakaodza were taken to a police station, where they were arrested
The arrests stemmed from an article Maponga wrote for the May 16 edition
of the paper alleging that the family of a mining company executive who
was recently murdered blamed senior government officials for plotting
the man’s assassination.
After signing "warned and cautioned" statements, the two journalists were
released in the evening. Chakaodza said that police told the journalists
that they would be detained again after police interrogated the family
members of the killed mining executive who were the sources for the story.
If convicted under Section 15 of POSA, the journalists face up to five
years in prison, a fine, or both.
On May 3, CPJ named Zimbabwe one of the "World’s Worst Places to Be a
Journalist." More than a dozen journalists have been charged under POSA
and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act since the
two acts were passed in 2002. Many journalists have multiple charges pending
against them. Chakaodza said that he has been arrested and charged six
times since the legislation went into effect.
No journalist has yet been convicted for charges under the two acts.
Chakaodza is a former editor at the state-owned Herald newspaper.
He was fired in 2000 after criticizing the government for using the newspaper
as a propaganda organ for the ruling party. He has been editor of The
Standard since March 2002.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2004
Posted: September 27, 2004
Vincent Kahiya, Zimbabwe Independent
Augustine Mukaro, Zimbabwe Independent
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Zimbabwe Independent Editor Kahiya, reporter Mukaro, and General
Manager Raphael Khumalo were arrested and taken to a police headquarters
in the capital, Harare, where they were forced to sign "warned and cautioned"
statements, defense lawyer Linda Cook told CPJ. She said they were charged
under Section 80 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) with "publication of a statement that is injurious to the
reputation, rights and freedoms of the State, recklessly or maliciously
or incorrectly representing the statement as a true statement."
Cook said the charge was brought by Judge Paddington Garwe, presiding
judge in the treason trial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in
connection with a July 30 article in the Zimbabwe Independent.
The article said that the judgment in the Tsvangirai trial, which had
been set for July 29, was postponed to give the two court assessors, who
are supposed to be consulted on rulings, the opportunity to access the
The charge sheet claims that the judgment, now set for October 15, was
postponed for "other reasons." CPJ sources said the issue was sensitive
because some newspapers outside Zimbabwe have alleged that the judge had
prepared a guilty verdict without consulting the assessors.
The Zimbabwe Independent is one of the country's few remaining
independent newspapers after the authorities closed the only independent
daily, the Daily News, in September 2003. For the last four
years, Zimbabwe's government has pursued a relentless crackdown on the
private press through harassment, censorship, and restrictive legislation.
In 2004, CPJ named Zimbabwe one of the 10 worst places in the world to
be a journalist.