The Movement for Democratic Change led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has condemned the arrest of Daily News Editor, Stanley Gama and the senior writer, Fungi Kwaramba.
In a statement on Wednesday Nelson Chamisa said the Zanu PF government should “align the new constitution with the nation’s laws to avoid such harassment and further abuse of esteemed members of the fourth estate.”
Read full statement below:
Harassment of journalists unconstitutional and barbaric
The MDC condemns the arrest of Daily News Editor, Stanley Gama and the senior writer, Fungi Kwaramba on Monday at the instigation of controversial businessman, Kamal Khalfan, over stories linking the Omani citizen to underhand deals in Zimbabwe.
It is criminal and archaic to make defamation a criminal offence. Moreso, the arrest of the two flies in the face of the country’s new Constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
The MDC alternative Cabinet therefore calls on the Zanu PF government to align the new constitution with the nation’s laws to avoid such harassment and further abuse of esteemed members of the fourth estate.
The media is the watchdog of our society and brings to light all the hidden truths that affect the people’s lives and therefore should not be gagged by archaic laws that are inconsistent with the new constitutional dispensation we are in.
Criminal defamation charges against the fourth estate are designed to diminish and dissuade the media from exposing the scourge of corruption which has become the country’s common enemy. The watchdogs have played their role, the police should now investigate these issues to ascertain the real facts and make arrests where necessary.
The act of arresting journalists is in itself an act that demands investigation. Corruption can never be condoned at any level. Millions of Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty while a few politically-linked elites benefiting from the country’s vast natural resources. Zimbabweans need answers from authorities, not excuses and sideshows that do not answer to the bread butter questions the people of Zimbabwe are raising Arresting journalists who expose graft and corruption stands an arrow aimed at the very heart of the noble fight against corruption.
As a way of introducing more windows, the alternative Cabinet bemoans the delays in the issuing of broadcasting licenses for more players. Further, we call on the authorities to transparently and accountably issue broadcasting licenses to deserving private, individuals.
Zimbabwe needs plural media voices that expose and uncover the truth about our nation and suggest ways to develop and grow this nation to its once famed status.
Criminal defamation is a barbaric way of gagging the fourth estate and is a Stone Age tactic employed and deployed by unpopular regimes to suffocate the interests of transparency and accountability, the cornerstones of a modern and democratic society.