The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has launched a “witch-hunt” for a local journalist who allegedly worked with Jeffrey Gettleman, the Kenya Bureau Chief for New York Times, who reportedly confirmed the publication of a false story and offered a public apology to President Robert Mugabe.
By Phyllis Mbanje
According to the State media, Gettleman published an article in which he attributed fabricated quotes to Mugabe.
The quotes allegedly claimed that the African Union chairperson had called Kenyans thieves.
National Police spokesperson, senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said law enforcement agents wanted to establish the Zimbabwean journalist who purportedly corroborated the story lifted from a Kenyan satirical site.
“The law will certainly take its course on the culprits,” she said.
Gettleman allegedly said he took responsibility for the mistake and claimed that he had called a local journalist based in Harare to verify the quotes from government sources and only ran with the story when the answer was affirmative.
Meanwhile, several organisations have condemned the arrest of freelance photojournalist Andrison Manyere who was picked up while covering a demonstration by MDC-T supporters.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe chapter) said Manyere was charged with contravening Section 37 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry, following his brief detention at Harare Central Police Station.
The freelance journalist, who was represented by Harare lawyer Gift Mtisi, was later released after signing a warned and cautioned statement in which he denied the preferred charge.
“Manyere becomes the eighth journalist to be arrested within a period of less than a month,” said Misa.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said it was deeply concerned about the continued onslaught on media practitioners and the use of force by the ZRP to thwart people’s democratic rights.
“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we would like to implore law enforcement agencies to uphold journalists’ fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 61 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
The organisation said upholding media freedom was a pre-requisite for guaranteeing citizens’ constitutional right of access to information as outlined in Section 62 of the country’s Constitution.