Govt denies Mozambique militia claims, demands retraction from NewsDay
Government has dismissed as malicious a story by the privately owned newspaper, NewsDay, that Zanu-PF had roped in a militia group from neighbouring Mozambique to help it win the upcoming harmonised elections by force.
The story titled, “Zanu ropes in Moza militia”, claimed the government had invited a Mozambican militia group and deployed it to the Chipinge area to coerce people to vote for the ruling Zanu-PF.
Government through President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba dismissed that article as false and called on NewsDay to retract it.
“The front-page article, ‘ZANU PF ROPES IN MOZA MILITIA’, in today’s issue of NEWSDAY, passes for reckless, malicious, offensive and provocative yellow journalism which Zimbabwe is best without.
“Timed to raise political temperatures in the country as we prepare for harmonised elections, and to deliberately impugn our long- standing bilateral relations with the neighbouring sister Republic of Mozambique, this piece of brazen, fake news shows what becomes of journalism when a discredited publisher, backed by an unprofessional editorial team prefers political partisanship to media ethics.
“Nothing in Section 61 of our hallowed Constitution protects or condones the publishing of such reckless, politically motivated falsehoods,” read the statement.
“We thus hope and expect that the Zimbabwe Media Commission, ZMC, takes a clear and bold position against this flagrant abuse of media freedoms whose impact on national security, and on inter-state relations, are dire and injurious respectively.
“That the article repeatedly and self- consciously used the adverb “reportedly”, clearly shows deliberate, gratuitous malice, and a conscious decision to proceed to publish falsehoods regardless, as if to wilfully spite rules of the craft.
“So, too, does the tabloid paper’s decision to proceed on the basis of some spurious video clip anonymously placed and circulated on the social media.
“The intentions of the video are clear, namely to stir hostilities and to harm harmonious relations between communities on either side of our common border with the sister Republic of Mozambique.
“Zanu PF, itself the Party of Liberation campaigning on a solid record of countrywide delivery, need not do anything to violate Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity, including enlisting the support of security arms of a foreign country for its election campaign whose momentum and success on the ground is self-evident.”
The Zanu-PF administration has demanded an immediate public apology and retraction from NewsDay.
“Government thus demands an immediate public apology from AMH, and an unconditional retraction of this offensive article by the newspaper concerned. Further, Government expects the apology and retraction to have the same prominence as the offending article.
“Failure to publicly apologise, and to retract as demanded and on terms outlined above, automatically invites the injured parties, who include Government, to pursue and seek redress through legal options which are available to them.
“As Government voices its protest against such reckless, fringe journalism, it continues to urge the mainstream media to show the way by upholding tenets of professional journalism in the country, especially now as we go through the last stretch of our election campaign programme which, to date, has been remarkably free, fair and peaceful. Nothing must be allowed to wreck our hard-won national peace.”
NewsDay was yet to respond to the government during the time of writing.