Five detectives from Serious Fraud Section stormed the newsroom and conducted an unprecedented search operation that has been widely condemned across the media divide.
For any journalists worth their salt, having detectives visiting the newsroom, let alone, rummaging through reporters’ and editors’ drawers is the last thing imaginable.
A newsroom is the hallowed territory for journalists. Here ideas are developed into stories and then undergo editing before publication.It is also a place where information on key contacts and confidential papers are kept without any fear that powers-that-be can lay their hands on such documents. In short, newsrooms are the engine rooms for the gathering and news writing processes.
They form in the process, an appropriate sphere through which, the exchange of healthy ideas for all citizens must take place without fear of unjustified government censorship.
So when five detectives stormed The Standard newsroom on Friday armed with a search warrant, the intention was obvious — to muzzle this paper.
The detectives demanded documents related to Green Card Medical Aid, owned by Kereke, an advisor to RBZ governor Gideon Gono charging they were “stolen property”.
The documents were said to contain financial statements, membership and claims reports. This unwarranted police action disrupted the entire Standard production process for close to three hours and the police officers had no apologies for that.
While the police were over-excited by their mission, the clear fact that Kereke was behind this plot was not lost. Kereke clearly wants to stop The Standard from publishing anything about his medical aid society, which is reportedly facing financial problems. Sadly, his actions, in the eyes of journalists who are fighting for a free press in Zimbabwe, amount to one thing: the abuse of the judicial process.