ZANU PF has paid for the 40 NewsDay copies that were confiscated from an Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) news stand in Mbare, Harare, by suspected party activists on Tuesday riled by the paper’s article on the formation of a grand coalition aimed at unseating President Robert Mugabe.
Party officials at the Zanu PF office had on Tuesday pledged to pay for the torn newspapers following a rampage by the suspected party youths after police intervention.
Munn Marketing operations manager Nick Ncube confirmed Zanu PF officials in Mbare disowned the attackers who seized the newspapers from AMH vendor Emmanuel Mhorombe.
However, he said the officials were “apologetic” over the unfortunate incident, saying they would assist in searching for the culprits.
“They (Zanu PF officials) had promised to pay and they owned up and have paid for the 40 NewsDay copies that were taken yesterday (Tuesday),” Ncube said.
“They said they will look for the people who did that because they were tarnishing the image of the party. I am also happy with the way the police have handled the matter.”
AMH Group Editor-in-Chief Vincent Kahiya said the message of peace being preached by leaders was hypocritical if their political parties staged attacks on the media.
“Confiscation of newspapers by party functionaries is an affront to the peace and tranquillity that political parties have been preaching. This incident is a real reminder that dark and dangerous instruments of coercion and intimidation are still lurking and their agents are waiting to pounce on the media,” Kahiya said.
He, however, added that although Zanu PF was to be commended for compensating AMH on the loss of the 40 confiscated copies, it had to keep its supporters and members in check to ensure a peaceful environment.
“While it is commendable that Zanu PF has seen it fit to recompense us for the confiscated newspapers, the greatest service party officials can do to the nation is to disband militias and allow readers to choose news sources freely,” Kahiya added.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said leaders of political parties should urge supporters to desist from attacking journalists especially during this electoral period.
“What happened yesterday (Tuesday) brings to the fore our fears that as we go to the elections, the safety of journalists and media workers is going to be compromised. We call on leaders of political parties . . . to urge their supporters and followers to refrain from attacking journalists,” Dongozi said.
“In the past few weeks we have seen attacks on Mashudu Netsianda, Herbert Moyo and the journalist from Chinhoyi. That is the clearest sign that whenever they are elections, people think what journalists write is actually what they think yet they will just be doing their jobs in line with their editorial policies. We, therefore, urge political leaders to make public statements discouraging supporters from attacking journalists.”