A Zanu PF activist and war veteran in Rusape, Nathaniel Mhiripiri, yesterday allegedly confiscated 230 copies of NewsDay and threatened to set them ablaze after he was angered by one of the stories carried by the newspaper.
The story which appeared in the paper yesterday titled Shamu orders Makoni poll rerun referred to Mhiripiri as one of the contestants for the chairperson’s post in the Zanu PF district coordinating committee elections to be held today.
According to newspaper vendors in Rusape, Mhiripiri pounced on a Munn Marketing delivery truck and threatened unspecified action against the driver.
“He took the newspapers and left them in the custody of a petrol filling station attendant before he took them in his car to the police station where he was ordered to return them by the officer-in-charge,” said a vendor who declined to be named.
“We reported the matter to the police and the officer-in-charge gave us his number to report any disturbances. We were given our papers back, although with three papers missing, and up to now, the situation is calm.”
The latest incident comes hardly a week after some Zimbabwe Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees’ Association (Zeppdra) members threatened to ban NewsDay and the Daily News for allegedly demonising President Robert Mugabe.
Two weeks ago, a member of the Zimbabwe National Army threatened to stop distribution of NewsDay in Gokwe.
Vincent Kahiya, Group Editor–In-Chief of Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of the NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, described the threats as a major cause for concern.
“The frequency with which this is happening points to a premeditated project to induce fear in the men and women who earn an honest living from selling newspapers,” Kahiya said. “We see this quest to destabilise the distribution of our papers as a major assault on media freedom and the right to information. This thuggish behaviour is the surest way to gain notoriety as an enemy of the Press.”