Journalist jail sentence signals ongoing media repression

via Journalist jail sentence signals ongoing media repression | SW Radio Africa  by Alex Bell on Monday, April 28, 2014

The jail sentence slapped on the editor of a Chinhoyi community newspaper signals an ongoing culture of media repression under ZANU PF.

This is according to exiled journalist Tanonoka Whande, who said on Monday that there can never be real change in Zimbabwe until there is an active, free media.

James Muonwa, editor-in-chief of the Western Star, was last week sentenced to a six month jail term for allegedly operating a media group without a valid licence from the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).

Last Thursday, Chinhoyi magistrate Jele Singandu said Muonwa contravened Section 72 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which requires media houses to register with the ZMC.

The six month sentence was wholly suspended on condition Muonwa does not commit a similar offence in the next five years.

Whande told SW Radio Africa that the case “is proof that there is no media freedom or democracy in Zimbabwe.”

“There should be a lot more concern about the media situation in Zimbabwe. We are moving backwards and they (ZANU PF) should leave the media alone,” Whande said.

He added: “The media is still subservient to personal and political interests… you simply cannot have democracy without a free media.”

AIPPA, along with the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), were listed as two key pieces of legislation that needed reform as part of a roadmap towards democratic elections. Those reforms never happened before the disputed polls last July.

Instead, ZANU PF walked away as ‘victors’ with the repressive laws still firmly in place. The nature of the laws means anyone critical of the party, including media groups, activists and others, can still be targeted with arrest.

“Those safeguards that were meant to guarantee the freedom of the press and the freedom of the people are still not being dealt with. And now, no one can do anything, only ZANU PF can do what it wants,” Whande said.

Meanwhile, two journalists from the NewsDay newspaper were interrogated for several hours on Monday by the police, over an article that blamed the cops for the death of a three year old boy last week.

The child, Neil Mutyora, died last Tuesday after being knocked down by a commuter omnibus driver, who was fleeing police officers. NewsDay published an article titled “Chihuri, you are responsible”, stating that police chief Augustine Chihuri needed to take responsibility for the role of the cops in the child’s death.

NewsDay Editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Moses Matenga were questioned along with company secretary Sifikile Thabete, after they reported at Harare Central Police Station. They were interrogated for almost seven hours and accused of publishing ‘false statements prejudicial to the State’.

Madanhire and Matenga were charged with contravening the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and later released.



  • comment-avatar
    roving ambassador. 9 years ago

    And we still think Moyo is reformed. Look at the news the Daily News is spewing out of recent, they are singing Moyo’s tune.
    i AM AFRAID THE PRIVATE PRESS is going to the dogs.

  • comment-avatar
    apolitical 9 years ago

    Very disappointing he should have been locked up for 6 months and then had 6 months suspended sentence.
    Just because journalists seem not to have had parental control and discipline does not give them more rights than the general public.
    Why should we if found guilt of libel or slander go to jail and an idiotic irresponsible journalist get freedom of speech and expression to get away with crime.
    More need to be jailed as it is the only way they will learn responsibility that they were not taught by their parents.
    Journalist need to adopt a code of ethics fast and adhere to same with severe punishments or be jailed.
    Who do they think they are in society to get privileges because they are liars.

  • comment-avatar
    apolitical 9 years ago

    We the public can do something about this travesty of justice to protect the general public and ourselves.
    1. Write and complain to the Public Proscecutors office complaining that the lenient sentence should be appealed in the public interest.
    2. Write to the Minister suggesting that in the event that we have such laughable sentences for journalists as there is a need to hold media organisations morally responsible for the conduct of their members and prosecute them as well for their lack of action within journalist circles that has resulted in us having the worst example of journalistic ethics in the world. No other country including the UK would tolerate such low moral standards of journalistic ethics.
    Ask the minister by what right journalists think they are entitled to privilege over citizens of Zimbabwe.

    • comment-avatar

      Yes those that wield the power of the pen should be locked up? Meanwhile back at the ranch the kleptocrats that these people protect us from laugh louder as they bank their illegal $500,000 salaries. It is with sadness there are idiots in Zimbabwe who actually believe and express these beliefs that journalists should be treated worse than thieves and murderers. Maybe the mind control people should lock up idiots at the same time.
      Run apolitical run!!!

      • comment-avatar

        Yes! Jail those who pen the truth and let those who shed blood, oppress, lie and much more go free? Doesn’t make senses does it. That’s Apol’s brand of thinking. He very obviously has a very great aversion to the truth. Sad!

  • comment-avatar

    “…Who do they think they are in society to get privileges because they are liars.”

    Could’nt agree more Apol. Some people in our society think they are above others. I agree totally that its a disgrace….

  • comment-avatar

    Hell, yes throw them in jail for having an opinion that is against the law. Burn the information, burn freedom of speech, etc,…. OR maybe rather burn the laws….

    • comment-avatar
      apolitical 9 years ago

      Laws are ok we just need more prosecutions, no one has a problem with an opinion unless it defames another’s character – in this situation absolute evidence should be required or jail and serious deterrent compensation to the victim.

      • comment-avatar

        And only if it is defamation against one party, even if it is the truth they should be jailed, How dare anyone say anything bad about one of the brothers??

      • comment-avatar

        Apol, for once you are absolutely correct. We need lots more prosecutions. God’s justice is coming and judgment is knocking at the door. Lots more prosecution! Yes! lots more prosecutions! The only thing you got wrong was who should be prosecuted. So you got 50% correct!

  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 9 years ago