Concern has been voiced by the Community Newspapers Association of Zimbabwe (CNAZ), a media organisation, on the arrest of Garikai Mafirakureva, editor of the Masvingo Mirror.
In a statement obtained by Pindula News, (CNAZ), a coalition of media organisations that publishes more than 20 local newspapers nationwide, claimed that Mafirakureva’s arrest is a drawback on media reform initiatives. CNAZ General Secretary, Owen Matava said:
CNAZ is of the view that the arrest of Mafirakureva on charges of publishing falsehoods by police is in sharp contrast with government efforts to change the media laws for the betterment of the media sector.
CNAZ strongly condemns the arrest of Mafirakureva on January 19, 2023. He was arrested by the police in Masvingo allegedly for publishing falsehoods.
The story in question police says, “The story published by the Mirror taint the image of ZRP organization in general and CID Masvingo senior officers in particular as the story would make the public lose confidence in the Police“.
The Mirror published a story where a brother of a prominent Machakata businessman, Nyasha Machaya allegedly stabbed and killed a patron at the businessman bar over the weekend. Villagers who reported the matter to The Mirror expressed the fear that Police may sweep the matter under the carpet following allegations that some CID officers were very close to the family of one of the accused person Thomas Machaya.
As a newspaper publishers organization, we do not agree that journalists should be arrested simply because other people think that their words would have a negative impact on the police, without proof of such negative impact.
In a democracy, where every individual possesses the right to exercise the freedom of speech and expression, it is unjustifiable that such stringent laws are being used as tools against journalists, who have been accorded the role of playing watchdog against the misuse of the institutions of the state.
CNAZ urges Police in Masvingo to withdraw the case immediately. The use of such stringent laws being used as tools against journalists who are considered the fourth pillar of democracy must be stopped. The continued use of such laws flies in the face of a government claiming to have made some media reforms.
We stand firmly with Mafirakureva who is expected to appear in court today in Masvingo.