ZANU PF this week intensified its crackdown on the private media by intimidating and harassing newspaper distributors and vendors.
Munn Marketing Distributors, which distributes local weeklies the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard and South African newspapers the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Star was forced to stop selling in Masvingo, Chivhu and Victoria Falls until after todayâ€™s election.
The companyâ€™s operations manager, Nicholas Ncube, told the Independent that he was stopped in Chivhu on Monday by a group of youths wearing Zanu PF bandanas and T-shirts who took his ID card and told him to stop distributing the Sunday Times in the town.
“On Monday when we got to Chivhu a group of youths dressed in Zanu PF regalia stopped us and told us that the Sunday Times and other private newspapers had been banned in Chivhu and Masvingo.”
Ncube said the youths took their ID cards and threatened to kill them if they continued distributing the newspapers in Chivhu and Masvingo.
He alleged that many of the companyâ€™s vendors in Harare were on Monday beaten up, intimidated and forced to wear Zanu PF regalia when selling newspapers.
“We have been forced to stop distributing our paper in Victoria Falls after our agent there said she was scared and could only resume after election day,” Ncube said.
He added that it was unfortunate that their newspapers were being targeted at the time Zanu PF was advertising in the same papers.
Fungai Katapi, a newspaper vendor at Market Square, said he was approached by an unmarked white truck whose occupants were wearing Zanu PF regalia who beat him up and told him to stop selling hostile papers.
Zanu PF information and publicity sub-committee chairman Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said he was not aware of the attacks.
“We are not aware of such attacks and it is not our policy to attack newspaper vendors,” Chinamasa said. “Itâ€™s obvious that those people are not Zanu PF.”
By Lucia Makamure