Mutasa threatens journalists

BY TERERAI KARIMAKWENDA Zimbabwe's the powerful minister of State Security and Land distribution Didymus Mutasa has warned journalists working that the net will soon close in on them. Speaking to the state-controlled Manica Post, Mutasa berated journalists who he claimed were threatening nati

onal security, and accused them of “selling the country to the enemy by writing falsehoods, with the intention of agitating violence in the country.”

The attack comes in a week that has seen the independent media come under increased threats after the trustees of Radio VOP were charged with broadcasting illegally. Mutasa is reported to have said that VOP broadcasts its programmes via shortwave “illegally”.

These threats affect the journalists working inside Zimbabwe by limiting their ability and willingness to pursue stories critical of the government. Daniel Molokela of the Zimonline news site, which operates from South Africa, believes the feared Minister Mutasa is now being used to make the threats because Information minister Tichaona Jokonya is considered too diplomatic.

Mutasa’s notorious CIOs are known to have infiltrated every aspect of Zimbabwean life, giving his threats more weight. “We will not sit on our laurels and watch people undermining the country’s security,” Mutasa said. Molokela believes journalists will feel vulnerable and react by practicing even more self-censorship. According to The Mail & Guardian Mutasa warned that although some of the journalists use pseudonyms, “government had since identified them from their closets.”

Meanwhile a report from the IRIN news service said the Dutch government has been urged to take action on the government’s alleged earlier jamming of the Voice of the People broadcasts to Zimbabwe. A Dutch member of the European parliament told IRIN: “This is a clear violation of freedom of the press and we have urged the Dutch government to file an official complaint via the International Telecommunications Union.

IRIN said Minister Mutasa denied the jamming allegations, claiming “it must be their imagination.” But he added: “If it does happen, it is because the broadcasting is hostile.” SW Radio Africa shortwave broadcasts into Zimbabwe were jammed early last year, forcing us to stop transmitting on shortwave. Information we received would indicate that Chinese help and equipment was used to make this possible. The Zimbabwe government also denied that they were involved in this.

Healthtalk with Dr B Chireka
Mtetwa target of state papers' hate campaign

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