Events of the last few days, where the country’s security forces have either summoned or spread fear in people, are quite ominous and portend a dark future, where all dissent shall be crushed ruthlessly.
In yesterday’s issue, we reported that Zimbabwe People First spokesman, Jealousy Mawarire had been summoned to the police, where he was charged with contravening a section of the Posts and Telecommunications Act, after he tweeted an accusation that Higher and Education minister Jonathan Moyo had sold a building and could not account for the money.
In the same edition, it was reported that suspected soldiers had been to Alpha Media Holdings’ (AMH) chairman, Trevor Ncube’s home, where they demanded to know who owned it and wanted to be allowed to inspect it.
This came after people in plain clothes had also made a similar visit to Ncube’s home.
Yesterday again, NewsDay reporter, Richard Chidza was summoned to appear at the Law and Order section, where the police questioned him about the origins of a communiqué reportedly authored by war veterans.
We have no problem with the police or other security agents doing their jobs, but it becomes eerily worrying when a clear pattern develops and it seems authorities are on a witch-hunt of those seen as dissenting voices.
The State has always had an uneasy relationship with a free Press and we feel these incidents, just the tip of an iceberg, are foreboding and indicate that the government is moving in to clamp down on freedom of expression.
While, Moyo has every right to feel aggrieved by Mawarire, we think taking the matter to the police in that manner was a bit overboard and he could have responded in kind to the ZimPF spokesman on Twitter, as he is wont to do.
Not to say Moyo is guilty of anything, but as the Nigerian saying goes, “an old woman becomes uneasy when dry bones are mentioned.”
The Higher Education minister has most of the times given as much as he gets on Twitter and we wonder what could have inspired the latest action.
If Moyo feels strongly about what Mawarire said, then he should sue for defamation rather than seek his arrest.
We hold no brief for Ncube in spite of him being the chairman of NewsDay’s holding company, but the visitations at his home are the most callous form of intimidation ever.
If the people in plain clothes or the suspected soldiers wanted anything from him, then they could either have called him or visited his workplace in Harare, as the address is common knowledge, but they chose the cowardly route, seeking to instil fear in his family and staff.
This is a very heartless way of trying to make a point and we hope in future whoever it was would desist from such dastardly action.
We would also like to remind authorities that freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution and they have no business intimidating those exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.