Members of the Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Association (Zeppdra) yesterday threatened to clamp down on privately-owned newspapers, accusing them of demonising Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe.
Chairperson of the associations Harare provincial leadership, Percy Kuzvinzwa, said they had given NewsDay and the Daily News a month to give positive coverage to Mugabe or they would attack vendors selling the newspapers.
We are giving NewsDay and the Daily News up to a month to stop reporting negatively about President Mugabe, Kuzvinzwa said.
If they continue, we will attack their vendors in the streets. We still have the energy to do so.
NewsDay and the Daily News are privately-owned daily papers.
Suspected Zanu PF supporters in outlying parts of the country have banned circulation of the two newspapers in their areas.
Last week, rowdy soldiers allegedly threatened to beat up NewsDay vendors at Gokwe business centre.
Kuzvinzwa was addressing over 200 Zeppdra members at High Glen shopping centre in Harare where they claimed to have seized a vacant piece of land owned by Old Mutual.
This is not invading. We are taking away idle land so that we make it productive, he said.
President Mugabe in his birthday message in Mutare said all idle land should be taken and we have done just that.
War veterans were given gratuities and we were not. We have decided to take away this land from Old Mutual because its not being used.
No one will remove us from this place and no amount of force can achieve that. Even the police will not remove us from this piece of land.
Clad in Zanu PF regalia, the ex-detainees chanted and danced to Zanu PF songs while brandishing Mugabes portrait and national flag under the watchful eye of the anti-riot police.
Raphael Khumalo, chief executive officer for Alpha Media Holdings, the publishers of the NewsDay, said the company would not be deterred by statements from a few misguided individuals who were trying to seek relevance so that they find space in the feeding trough.
Independence was about ushering democracy to all Zimbabweans, not President Robert Mugabe or the late Joshua Nkomo. It was never about individuals.
It was all about democracy freedom of expression, freedom of choice and freedom of assembly, Khumalo said.
He urged the ex-detainees to regroup and join pro-democracy groups rather than block the countrys democratic space.
Old Mutual chairman Muchadeyi Masunda said he was not aware the companys property had been invaded but said it was a sad development taking into account the role Old Mutual was playing in the economic recovery of the country.
They have no right to do so. If they use force to take property that does not belong to them, the law will take its course, he said.
Its not Old Mutual they are prejudicing; its the pensioners and insurance policyholders who own the property.