Zim journo freed after 'humiliating' jail stay

Tight press laws and President Robert Mugabe's government's dislike of critical voices make working as a journalist in Zimbabwe difficult, particularly for those reporting for the privately-owned press. (AFP)

Tight press laws and President Robert Mugabe's government's dislike of critical voices make working as a journalist in Zimbabwe difficult, particularly for those reporting for the privately-owned press. (AFP)

A Zimbabwe journalist, who has been released after spending four nights in cells, says his time in custody was a “humiliating” experience.

Paidamoyo Muzulu was picked up on Thursday in Africa Unity Square along with a number of activists taking part in the Occupy Africa Unity Square protest, which was inspired by missing activist Itai Dzamara.

More activists were arrested on Friday. The Occupy Africa Unity Square group puts the total at 45 although lawyers cannot confirm this.

Some of the activists are still in custody – partly because bail has been set unusually high at $500 for some and $1 000 for others, tough sums to rake together in the best of times in Zimbabwe where the average salary stands at less than $400.

As cash shortages grip the southern African country, that kind of amount is now even harder to get one’s hands on.

Humiliating and Intimidating tactic
Writing on Facebook, Muzulu suggested that colleagues had helped post bail for him.

“My wife, daughters and me feel eternally indebted [comrades] Zhangazha, Koliwe Nyoni, Jacqueline Chikakano and Misa Zimbabwe for going beyond online solidarity and facilitating my release by providing the bail money,” he said.

Muzulu was released on Monday. He says police were acting on “political instructions” and did not bother to carry out basic investigations before arresting him.

“Being imprisoned is a humiliating and intimidating tactic by the [government],” he tweeted.

Commenting on his release, @ZimMediaReview said: “Journalism is not a crime.”

A lawyer told News24 that 15 of those arrested last week (when Muzulu was taken in) faced charges of either robbery or defeating the course of justice. They deny the charges.

Tight press laws and President Robert Mugabe’s government’s dislike of critical voices make working as a journalist in Zimbabwe difficult, particularly for those reporting for the privately-owned press.

In a separate case, press watchdog Misa-Zimbabwe said in an alert on Tuesday that Zimbabwe journalist Wellington Mukanhaire was due to appear in court this week on charges of “holding oneself as an accredited [press-card carrying] journalist without being so accredited”. – News24

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