PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba has threatened to intensify an onslaught on privately-owned media, warning journalists against covering the security sector which is dabbling in Zanu PF internal politics as the battle to succeed Mugabe reaches fever pitch.
Charamba’s threat came after this reporter asked him to comment on the contract status for Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga. He, however, reacted angrily and threatened to cause the arrest of journalists who report on the military.
This comes after Mugabe surprisingly lambasted securocrats at the Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls in December for interfering in his party’s internal affairs and succession.
Charamba told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday government would use all methods available to bring to book journalists who report on the military.
“If you do not heed the advice, then we will descend on you heavily. The minister warned you and quote me on this, we will use other instruments to make sure you stop reporting on military issues,” Charamba said.
“I have defended journalists as my colleagues several times, but be warned this time we will descend on you. We will be looking for your military sources while you are locked up at Chikurubi (Maximum Security Prison in Harare). I am warning you as my colleague.”
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe said last month said journalists should not meddle in security sector issues.
Charamba’s warning also comes as police arrested on charges of publishing falsehoods, two NewsDay journalists, Nqaba Matshazi (acting editor) and Xolisani Ncube yesterday over a story published by the daily newspaper on Wednesday alleging secret payment of outstanding bonuses to the Central Intelligence Organisation.
This is not the first time Charamba has threatened journalists. Recently he accused the private press of “manipulative reporting”.
In a lengthy interview in the state media, he accused the private press of trying to “force the succession question”.
“The media has to be free, but the media has to be professional; but don’t feel unfairly treated when the hammer descends on you,” Charamba said.