afrol News, 9 January - Again, the free Zimbabwean media are physically attacked and threatened by ruling party (ZANU-PF) members and the Head of State. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) today reported of threats issued by President Robert Mugabe and attacks by ruling party youths, destroying 'Daily News' newspapers.
According to an alert by MISA, a mob of ZANU-PF youths destroyed hundreds of newspaper copies of the independent 'Daily News' in the town of Masvingo in a demonstration against alleged misinformation by the paper on 27 December.
The youths numbering over 100 had taken to the streets in Masvingo to protest what they alleged to be lies being published about the Zimbabwe government by the paper. The demonstrating youths that were addressed by the provincial governor of Masvingo, Josiah Hungwe, "spent the whole day chasing 'Daily News' vendors from the streets of Masvingo," MISA reports.
A spokesperson for the group quoted by 'The Herald' said that the demonstration was a warning to the paper that negative publicity would not be tolerated. "We want the paper and its white supporters and black puppets to know that we will not watch while they continue telling lies about our country," said the unidentified spokesperson.
According to 'The Daily News', the youths some as young as ten years said that they were taking their instructions from the ZANU-PF chairperson for Masvingo and Higher Education Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi. "We have banned the sale of 'The Daily News' from Masvingo. The paper is writing bad news about the ruling party and we no longer want to see it on the streets," said some of the youths quoted by newspaper, who confessed they had been "hired to do this."
Although a report was made to the police about the destruction of the papers that was taking place in town, the police watched idly as the youths continued their rampage.
President Mugabe warns journalists
According to MISA, the church leaders had asked Mugabe to uphold the freedom of the press, especially the right to balanced reporting. Mugabe however replied that journalists and Editors should not enjoy more rights and freedoms than any other citizen should. "The media has been assaulting the integrity of private citizens and public citizens. In my view, an assault on one's integrity is even worse than an assault in physical terms," said Mugabe.
Mugabe made reference to so "libellous" reports, which were not properly attributed or attributed to "reliable sources". "If these sources are reliable, let them be reliable enough to come and rescue you when you are arrested," boasted Mugabe, according to the MISA alert.
Mugabe also made reference to foreign funding of the media that he said was destabilising the country. He said this was not only peculiar to Zimbabwe but was happening in Zambia as well. Mugabe said he is particularly incensed by media reports that he has properties in Europe particularly Scotland. "Why should I go and buy property there? I have not a single cent outside the country. I have told them to take that money and give it to charity, if they find it. If I have any money I would keep it here," said Mugabe.
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