Newspaper vendors battle police over prices

Scores of newspaper vendors have been fighting running
battles with the police in Harare over an ongoing
squabble regarding prices of privately owned weeklies,
with an undisclosed number having been arrested and
spent the night in cells.

The Zimbabwean visited Harare Central Police Station

on Friday afternoon and established that some vendors

that had been arrested on Thursday were still detained

in custody whilst others were being released under

various circumstances but most saying they paid

bribes. Huge quantities of newspaper copies of the

Financial Gazette and The Zimbabwe Independent were

also at the central police station, after they were

confiscated from vendors.

Defiant vendors have insisted on selling copies of the

weeklies at $600 000 each despite the heavy-handed

response by the Pricing and Incomes Stabilisation

Commission to the increases last week. The commission

ordered that the prices be reduced to $150 000, which,

the publishers say is “ridiculous” and meant at

driving them into incurring huge loses.

“We were arrested yesterday and spent the whole night

there,” a vendor said. “I have been released after

bribing a police officer with $5 million and  that is

how the majority of us have been released. They are

having refusing to give us back the newspapers, saying

the publishers or the distributing companies had to

come and collect them.”

Harare Central Police Station Officer Commanding

Investigation, Simon Sakupwanya confirmed to this

paper the arrest. “A number of them were arrested for

selling the newspapers above the stipulated prices but

I don’t have more details,” he said.

An acute shortage of newsprint and increasingly rising

running costs have forced media houses to review the

prices of newspapers upwards but only to clash with

the Zanu (PF) regime. Last week management from both

The Financial Gazette and the Zimbabwe Independent

were arrested and ordered to sell copies of the

newspapers at drastically reduced prices.

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