Daily News editor charged under Posa

Blessing Zulu

DAILY News editor Nqobile Nyathi was yesterday charged under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) over adverts run by the paper last month.



al, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Nyathi confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that she had been summoned to Harare Central Police station.


“I was summoned to the Law and Order Section at the Central police station,” said Nyathi.


“I was charged under Posa and they were referring to advertisements that appeared in our paper from May 16-19. I was made to sign a warned and cautioned statement and they said they were still investigating the case,” she said.


The adverts, placed by the opposition MDC, depicted a person resembling President Mugabe being chased by a crowd. “Do you recognise him? Thief! Thief! Thief!” the advert read.


Under Section 16 of Posa it is an offence to make any false statement about the president where there is risk of engendering feelings of hostility towards him.


The charge carries a fine of $100 000 or five years imprisonment or both.

On June 11 Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe editor-in-chief Francis Mdlongwa was charged with the same offence when he was still at the Financial Gazette in 2002.


On Tuesday Daily News On Sunday editor Bill Saidi was charged under Posa for authorising a report in the Daily News last year which stated that Mugabe had arrived in South Africa to attend an ANC conference.


Condemning the charges, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chair Iden Wetherell said President Mugabe is not only head of state but head of government and leader of the ruling party.


“He is therefore at the centre of the nation’s robust political discourse. His public remarks dealing with opponents or critics are often offensive and unrestrained. Apart from that, the state media has frequently carried falsehoods which, to the best of our knowledge, have never been investigated by the police.


“The action of the police suggests a political agenda to target the independent media. This selective application of the law and bid to protect President Mugabe from legitimate public comment is unacceptable and illustrates the lopsided political playing field in Zimbabwe.”

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