Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said three journalists who had written a story that ZANU-PF supporters had beheaded a 53-year old woman were not journalists but “common criminals” after the story turned out not to be true.
The journalists, Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza of the Daily News and Andrew Meldrum an American citizen who wrote for the Guardian, were charged under a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Moyo hailed the arrest of the journalists as proof that Zimbabwe respected the rule of law.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1070, REPORTERS RELEASED FROM POLICE CUSTODY
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001070
AF/PD FOR COX AND ROBERTSON, AF/S FOR KRAFT AND
SCHLACHTER, AF/RA FOR DIPALMA, INR/R/MR, NSC FOR
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: REPORTERS RELEASED FROM POLICE CUSTODY
¶1. Two independent “Daily News” reporters, Lloyd
Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza, and a correspondent for the
British “Guardian” newspaper, American citizen Andrew
Meldrum, were released from police custody on May 2
after they were formally charged under a section of the
newly enacted Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act. The charges stem from the journalists’
publication of a story, since discredited, that ZANU-PF
supporters had beheaded a 53-year-old woman.
¶2. If found guilty of the charges, each of the three
reporters faces a maximum fine of 100,000 Zimbabwe
dollars (about 1800 US dollars at the official exchange
rate) or up to two years imprisonment. The three are
expected to appear in court again on May 3. Lawyers
for the journalists will argue that the case should be
dismissed because the law under which they were charged
is unconstitutional. The case is likely to work its
way slowly through Zimbabwe’s court system.
¶3. A May 2 news release from the Zimbabwe chapter of
the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA),
condemned the detention of the three journalists,
saying “the suffering, humiliation and intimidation
they had experienced far outweighed the offense they
were alleged to have committed.” Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo said that the three were not journalists
but “common criminals,” and hailed their arrest as
proof that Zimbabwe respects the rule of law.