HARARE – Gun-wielding members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) yesterday assaulted Daily News drivers who were distributing the country’s leading independent paper in and around the capital city.
The assaults were part of the vicious clampdown by both soldiers and riot police on ordinary citizens following the deadly violence which broke out in Harare and Bulawayo on Monday.
Soldiers stopped the three trucks as they approached the ZBC Mbare studios and ordered the drivers off their vehicles.
“They pointed guns at us and ordered us to remove the boulders and stones that had been left on the streets by protesters.
“We were beaten by rifle butts and bayonets on our buttocks as we removed the stones. They later accused us of writing negative stories about government and said we must write positive stories,” one of the drivers narrated their ordeal.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa was not reachable for comment as she was attending a meeting.
A spokesperson for Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the market-leading Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, said the company was “saddened and perturbed” by the development.
“These brazen acts of thuggery reflect very badly on the country’s new leaders. What makes these acts of criminality even more disturbing and reprehensible is that they are being perpetrated by members of the security services whom ordinary Zimbabweans look upon to protect them.
“Now, if law enforcement agents become the primary actors behind criminal acts in the country, who indeed will police them and to whom must law-abiding citizens now turn to for assistance and protection?
“We thus appeal to the authorities to rein in and take the strongest action possible against these few rotten eggs who are tarnishing the image of the security sector generally and that of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-pressure administration in particular, as it has enough challenges on its hands, as things stand, without having to worry about the misguided actions of these few rogue soldiers,” the spokesperson said.
“The many enlightened people who work within government and the country’s security system must also educate their colleagues who still have limited understanding of democracy and the key role of the media in our society — so that they internalise the fact that journalism is not, and can never be a crime.
“These misguided people in the system who are behind the barbaric attacks on media personnel and other peace-loving Zimbabweans going about their normal, lawful business must also know that one day their bestial behaviour will catch up with the, with devastating consequences,” the spokesperson added.
The Daily News and Daily News on Sunday were violently shutdown in 2003 by former president Robert Mugabe’s government for “telling it like it is” the Zimbabwean story whose many highlights was the nonagenarian’s ruinous rule.
The inimitable Daily News and its sister paper were only able to return to the news stands in 2011 — eight years after being barred from operating despite court orders lifting the ban — thanks largely to the consummation of the short-lived but stability-inducing government of national unity (GNU).