Zimbabwe:Editor, journalist held over Mugabe’s health story

Press freedom

Harare – Zimbabwean police have reportedly arrested the editor of the privately-owned News Day newspaper, for “undermining President Robert Mugabe”.

According to New Zimbabwe, this followed the publication of a story that claimed Mugabe was “in fresh health scare”.

The editor, Wisdom Mudzungairi was arrested together with senior reporter Richard Chidza, who wrote the story.

In the story, NewsDay alleged that Mugabe had “sneaked out of the country” on Wednesday in “a bad shape”.

The publication quoted unnamed sources who claimed that First Lady Grace Mugabe had flown out of the country on Monday to organise “a chartered flight for the 93-year-old leader”.

“It’s a tricky health situation. The usual Boeing 767 is awaiting a C-check (major aircraft service) which requires over $150 000. The airline does not have this kind of money now,” an unnamed official was quoted in the story as saying, adding that “He [Mugabe] could also not use the Boeing 737 because it would require stop-overs every four hours to refuel and other technical check-ups.”

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba confirmed to state media this week that Mugabe had left the country for a scheduled medical check-up and was expected back in the country next week on Monday.

Mudzungairi and Chidza were summoned on Friday morning before being charged with undermining the authority of Mugabe, their lawyer, Obey Shava reportedly said.

Shava said that the publishers of the paper Alpha Media Holdings was the first accused, while Mudzungairi and Chidza were second and third accused respectively.

“The first accused is Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) and the second accused is the editor and the third accused is the journalist. They are accused of breaching section 33 of criminal law codification and reform act, undermining or insulting the office of the president,” Shava was quoted as saying.

By Africafrique and agencies

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