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Mugabe had pledged not to arrest journos’

Itai Dzamara

THE arrest of Zimbabwe Independent editor Iden Wetherell and three of his journalists over the Air Zimbabwe story flies in the face of assurances President Mugabe is reporte

d to have given to South African President Thabo Mbeki to reform repressive laws.

Mugabe is understood to have made an undertaking to Mbeki during his visit to Harare last month to have the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) amended. Mugabe further agreed that no further arrests would be made and charges already brought under the repressive laws would be withdrawn.

Bheki Khumalo, Mbeki’s spokesman, yesterday confirmed Mugabe made the undertaking to Mbeki.

“I know that there was an undertaking when President Mbeki met President Mugabe in Harare that there would be amendments to the two pieces of legislation as well as that there wouldn’t be any arrests in the meantime.”

He however declined to comment on the views of the South African president regarding the latest arrests of journalists in Harare.

“I can’t comment on issues of arrest. This one you will have to cross check with the Foreign Affairs ministry. The President’s office doesn’t comment on issues across our borders,” he said.

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