POLICE yesterday arrested Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi following raids on his home and office, raising fears a crackdown is underway in the aftermath of President Robert Mugabe’s public criticism of Information minister Jonathan Moyo.
Sources within Zimpapers told this paper that heavily armed police officers led by Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge visited Herald House searching for Kudzayi, while a break-in at Chronicle editor Mduduzi Mathuthu’s home on Wednesday also raised suspicion of security sector involvement.
“Eight officers resplendent in suits arrived at four o’clock in the morning led by Makedenge,” said one source, adding that “two went up while the other six remained outside”.
The police reportedly then waited in the newsroom at Herald House until the arrival of Zimpapers general manager Samuel Bepe before ransacking Kudzayi’s office.
Moyo’s recent appointments of editors who have a history of being critical of Zanu PF has infuriated Mugabe, so has his rapprochement with journalists in the private sector.
Kudzayi, accompanied by his lawyer Joseph Mandizha of Mandizha & Co, surrendered himself last night at the Harare Central police station’s Law and Order Section.
“We are at the police station right now (about 7pm). We have been here for the past 30 minutes,” he said. “But the police have not preferred any charges as yet.”
However, top police sources said Kudzayi, who is suspected to be the Facebook mole Baba Jukwa, was wanted on several serious charges which include plotting insurgency, terrorism, treason and undermining the authority of the president.
While addressing mourners at the residence of late national hero Nathan Shamuyarira two weeks ago, Mugabe criticised Moyo for dismissing editors in the public media and replacing them with MDC-T sympathisers, saying among other things: “We must know who our enemies are, even amidst us. Kick them out and fish them out.”
Moyo subsequently met Mugabe, but it appears the fall-out over the role of the state media in Zanu PF’s factional in-fighting is far from over after the raids on Kudzayi’s home and office, as well as reports that a faction headed by Vice-President Joice Mujuru is compiling a dossier on articles written by Moyo during his days as an arch-critic of Mugabe and Zanu PF.
A report on the Herald website yesterday said police took a laptop Mac Book Pro, IMAQ laptop, Kia cellphone, white charger adapters, a power bank, a flash stick, and an “MDC-T debate disc” for April 29, 2014. They also confiscated power cables, a computer CPU, a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse.
The source said: “It seems Kudzayi had been tipped off because he made good his escape through the basement and sped off in his Toyota Bubble. They missed him by a whisker.”
Zimbabwe newspapers Editor-in-Chief Pikirayi Deketeke said in a statement they were still trying to ascertain the exact details of the charges being levelled against Kudzayi.
“Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd wishes to advise its stakeholders that there are current investigations by the Zimbabwe law enforcement agencies involving the Sunday Mail Editor, Edmund Kudzayi. In furtherance to the above the agencies visited his home and office early yesterday morning, June 19, 2014 during his absence,” Deketeke said.
“… Edmund Kudzayi was arrested later in the day.”
Moyo appointed three new editors at Zimpapers, namely Kudzayi (Sunday Mail), Mathuthu (The Chronicle) and Caesar Zvayi (The Herald).
However, top police sources said Kudzayi’s arrest was neither directed at Moyo, nor is it an attack on private media journalists.
“Do not mix things. This arrest has nothing to do with Professor Moyo nor is it an attack on the private media or people connected to Moyo. We have evidence linking him to Baba Jukwa and he has a lot to answer for,” said the top cop.
“He is facing several charges which include inciting violence, plotting insurgency and terrorism. At one time, Baba Jukwa even wrote that the President had died — just imagine the consequences of such a statement.”
Meanwhile three police officers also visited the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday and asked for the editor Dumisani Muleya’s home address and mobile number.
Alpha Media Holdings editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya said: “While we are not clear what the intentions of the police are there is overwhelming public sentiment — confirmed by the Constitutional Court in two landmark rulings — that harassment of media workers must stop. It is absolutely critical at this juncture that the executive and legislature take practical steps to protect fundamental freedoms enshrined in our constitution.