Activist charged for undermining Mugabe

The coordinator of the watchdog Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), Andrew Moyse, was last week charged with publishing statements that undermine the authority of Robert Mugabe, just weeks after police raided the MMPZ Harare offices claiming they were searching for subversive materials.

Moyse was charged last Friday and made to sign a warned and cautioned statement. He was not detained but police said they would summon him if they need his help with investigations. Moyse has denied the charges and said the materials they publish promote peace and tolerance.

The media activist was briefly detained after police raided the MMPZ office in Harare last month, confiscating documents and DVDs that they claimed had “Gukurahundi information”. But they have so far produced no evidence of illegal materials used to bring their case against Moyse.

The police action has been widely criticized as part of the crackdown on media practitioners in Zimbabwe, following the arrest of several independent journalists and editors on trumped-up charges.

Three other officials from the MMPZ had been arrested in Gwanda last month and jailed for two weeks. Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda and Gilbert Mabusa were held on allegations that they conducted an ‘unsanctioned’ meeting where they distributed DVD’s containing material “likely to cause public disorder.’

The state later used disputed legislation to charge the trio with “insulting President Robert Mugabe” and to block their release on bail. Defense lawyers pointed to this as “malicious” and further proof of harassment by the state.

Bulawayo High Court Justice Nicholas Mathonsi dismissed the state appeal and ordered the release of the MMPZ trio. But the harassment of media practitioners is expected to intensify in 2012, as ZANU PF pushes for early elections in the country. – SW Radio

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