Zim editor arrested over article

Zimbabwean police have arrested the editor of an independent weekly newspaper that alleged that “war veterans” were recruited for senior posts ahead of elections in 2011, an official said on Wednesday.

Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka confirmed the arrest of Nevanji Madanhire, editor of the Standard newspaper, which comes after the eight-day detention of the journalist who wrote the story.

“That story was totally false and no one should cry foul when we arrest journalists because we are simply enforcing the law,” said Mandipaka. “Journalists are just like any citizens, just like police officers, and they are not immune to arrest,” he added.

The editor was arrested after he voluntarily visited a police station after detectives went to look for him at the newspaper’s offices in the capital, said his lawyer, Chris Mhike.

“We went to report to the police and after recording statements they said they were locking him up,” Mhike said.

“The charge is for publishing or communicating statements prejudicial to the state. It relates to a story alleging that police were recruiting war veterans to take over senior posts in preparation for elections next year.”

Voter intimidation
The reporter who wrote the story, Nqobani Ndlovu, was released on bail on Friday after being arrested on November 17.

Zimbabwe’s war veterans are a group loyal to President Robert Mugabe and were at the forefront of seizures of white-owned farms. They have been criticised by rights groups for voter intimidation.

Media in Zimbabwe have been operating under stringent rules over the past decade, with several newspapers forced to shut down and journalists regularly harassed by the police.

Last month police issued an arrest warrant for the exiled editor of an independent weekly newspaper for publishing a story about the death of a senior election official two years ago.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for Wilf Mbanga, owner and editor of the Zimbabwean newspaper.—AFP

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