SOUTH Africa’s Gupta-family owned news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) was yesterday taken to task for carrying a story that Zimbabwe’s security forces had joined the opposition-led demonstrations.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary and Presidential spokesperson, Mr George Charamba, wrote to ANN7 after the television station broadcast a story published by CAJ News quoting unnamed security personnel claiming that they were joining the protests because they had not been paid.
“Editor, the Zimbabwe Government takes very great exception to claims on your screen suggesting the involvement of the country’s security forces in opposition demonstrations,” said Mr Charamba.
“You very well know — or should know — the rules around handling news, including picking up suggestive reports from dubious sources. What is “a flight air commando”? Have you checked the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have not been paid? What is “umpteenth” time?
“Is it beyond your channel to raise the Zimbabwean Government for a check before you publish such sensational claims? Or are you protecting your sinister efforts towards an endgame you dream and desire? Simply, it won’t happen.
“What is sure to happen is a rejection of this type of sinister “journalism”. I’m sure you can do better next time. In the meantime, the Zimbabwean Government urges you to do the honourable thing, namely to drop that falsehood forthwith. Not as a favour, but as a requirement of rules of your craft.”
ANN7 dropped the story in the wake of Mr Charamba’s censure.
The MDC-T is reported to have sent members of its youth wing to some African countries (names supplied) for paramilitary training and urban violence.
“Let me, however, highlight that according to security intelligence, MDC-T and their surrogate political parties have engaged their donors in neighbouring countries who have been contracted to sew both police and military uniforms,” said acting Senior Staff Officer (Press and Public Relations), Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi, in a statement yesterday.
“The security institutions are seized with investigations of this matter and are on high alert.
“There is a possibility that these uniforms will be clandestinely used to destabilise the country. Anyone found responsible will face the full wrath of the law.”
MDC-T spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu, denied his party was ordering the uniforms.
“There is absolutely nothing like that. The MDC is a civilian, lawful and peace-loving social democratic political party. We have no business acquiring army uniforms.”
Chief Supt Nyathi also dismissed a story on an online publication that alleged that Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge had ordered officers to shoot and kill ring leaders from MDC-T who were involved in the demonstrations on Friday and are still at large.
“We want to dismiss the story with the contempt it deserves as the ZRP, unlike other law enforcement agencies in other countries who use firearms to shoot people during demonstrations, does not use firearms to deal with unruly elements.
“This mischievous story is meant to divide security forces who, for your information, closely work together to protect the internal and external territorial integrity of Zimbabwe.
“No amount of propaganda will make police officers turn away from their constitutional obligations.
“Whoever feels otherwise is free to leave the ZRP especially those who are alleged to have been interviewed by CAJ news,” said Chief Supt Nyathi.