Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo on Saturday attacked journalists from the private media for allegedly writing “negative and false stories” against the police and other security apparatus.
Khaya-Moyo was speaking during a donation of seed and an ambulance by Umguza MP Obert Mpofu in Nyamandlovu where he officiated.
“The private press is reporting negatively about the police and defence forces. They are here to defend our sovereignty and to provide peace to all.
“They go ahead writing about the police that they have been recruited into Zanu PF structures. That is unacceptable and not true. In other places you will not survive a day after writing such a story,” said Khaya-Moyo.
“They say they want freedom of the press yet they write lies. If you drink three quarters of hot stuff you just waffle and write that members of the defence forces have joined Zanu PF without any evidence.”
Khaya-Moyo’s sentiments come after the arrest of Standard Editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Nqobani Ndlovu, over a story which spoke about police cancelling promotion examinations.
Ndlovu was charged with criminal defamation while Madanhire was charged for publishing an article that “undermines” confidence in the security forces.
Ndlovu spent nine days in prison after the state invoked section 121 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after Bulawayo magistrate Sibongile Msipa had granted him bail while Madanhire spent a night at Rhodesville Police Station in Harare.
Commenting on Khaya-Moyo’s sentiments, Media Institute for Southern Africa (Zimbabwe) chairperson, Loughty Dube warned politicians against making inflammatory statements against the media.
“The media is the watchdog of society hence has the right to scrutinise the operations of state institutions, like the police and army.
“The army and police operate for the people and therefore have to be accountable to the people that they serve and the media has the right and mandate to report on those institutions without fear. What Khaya-Moyo is doing is clear intimidation,” said Dube.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Dumisani Sibanda said Khaya-Moyo’s statements were tantamount to harassment and intimidation of journalists.
“I am shocked and dismayed that a person of his calibre and someone I thought was a serious politician, given that he was once personal assistant to the legendary Joshua Nkomo, can actually utter such nonsense,” said Sibanda.
“His reference to journalists having taken alcohol begs a question on whether he had taken a full bottle of whisky when he said this because his statements lack substance. I hope to hear him retract the statement with an addition that it was a joke meant to provide comic relief for the audience he was addressing.”
Sibanda said Khaya-Moyo should not threaten journalists for doing their work.
“Public institutions are accountable to the people as they are paid by the taxpayer.
“The police and defence forces are not demi-gods who should be worshipped and praised every time. They should be put under spotlight like what happens in any other serious democracy,” Sibanda said.
“He has no business threatening journalists away from their work in a country that is supposed to be a democracy unless he wants this country to be run as a military dictatorship, and I do not think his principals will be happy to hear him say such drivel.
“We call upon all progressive forces in this country and region to denounce him for such utterances which constitute a threat to democracy.”