Attacks on media intensify with increased threats against newspapers

Attacks on media institutions and practitioners in Zimbabwe have intensified in recent weeks, as ZANU PF officials continue their push for elections to be held this year, even without any reforms.

This week alone the Daily News reported that thugs from Robert Mugabe’s party had illegally banned sales of the paper in Mashonaland East and there have been threats by war vets against NewsDay newspaper, over a story they claim was false.

Daily News editor Stanley Gama told SW Radio Africa that ZANU PF thugs have stopped the paper from being distributed anywhere in Mutoko and Murehwa districts, by attacking the vehicles that bring copies to the area. He also complained that police were not protecting their vendors around the country.

Gama said they plan to approach the courts through their lawyers in order to re-establish circulation of the paper in those areas. He also plans to travel to Murehwa and Mutoko to file police reports and discuss the issue of protection with the police in the area.

“Our papers were also burned by ZANU PF thugs in Kadoma who came from their office nearby. Vendors were also threatened in Kuwadzana. There are threats every day but we will not be silenced,” Gama said.

He explained that the intensified attacks on the media are linked to talk of elections from ZANU PF, as the party does not want people to have information about their abuses ahead of the expected polls.

On Wednesday, war vet leaders for Harare province reportedly threatened to shut down the operations of NewsDay, unless the paper revealed their source for a story published last month, which said war vets had tried to exhume the remains of Cecil John Rhodes at Matobo Hills.

According to NewsDay, Harare province war vet chairman Charles Mpofu claimed that none of their members had been at Matobo on that day and gave the paper five days to reveal who leaked the information, or risk being shut down.

Meanwhile, shortwave broadcasts from SW Radio Africa have been jammed several times in the last month, with the most recent incident taking place Wednesday night.

Attacks on the media have been part of ZANU PF’s strategy over the last decade, whenever elections are approaching. SW Radio Africa

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