Journalists forced to sign anti-sanctions petition

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Zanu PF has stepped up its anti-sanctions campaign by targeting state-owned companies and media houses demanding that employees append their signatures to the petition document.

Yesterday, Zimbabwe Newspapers, which has 11 titles under its stable, published an advertisement in the Chronicle, carrying 462 signatures purportedly denouncing the embargo.

However, several employees at the company’s Bulawayo branch claimed they never signed the petition and wondered where the company obtained the signatures from.

“We do not know where the signatures were obtained from because the petition was not circulated here,” said a journalist at the Chronicle.

Besides the Chronicle, Zimpapers publishes The Herald, The Sunday Mail, Sunday News, H-Metro, Southern Times, Kwayedza, uMthunywa, B-Metro and ZimTravel.

NewsDay has also learnt that workers at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s Pockets Hill headquarters in Harare were given the anti-sanctions petition to sign on Wednesday.

An employee at the state broadcaster confirmed the development.

“The papers were brought to the station since it is a government institution. No one was told to sign but since the papers had been brought, people just queued up to sign,” said the employee who declined to be named.

“We felt that if we did not sign, our loyalty would be questioned,” said the employee.

ZBC spokesperson Sivukile Simango confirmed the development, but insisted the signing was voluntary.

“Yes, we got the petitions but we made it very clear that anyone who was willing to sign should do so and those who were not interested should not sign. I still have excess forms in my office that were not signed,” he said.

Simango added: “The President (Robert Mugabe) made it clear on the day he launched the campaign that those who wanted sanctions to go should sign the petition but those who wanted them (to stay) should not.”

Civil servants were reportedly ordered to attend the provincial anti-sanctions launches a fortnight ago.