Sol­diers, po­lice join protests claims trashed

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Lloyd Gumbo

SOUTH Africa’s Gupta-fam­ily owned news chan­nel Africa News Net­work 7 (ANN7) was yes­ter­day taken to task for car­ry­ing false­hoods 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 ANN7 re­port came amid re­ports that the MDC-T and its af­fil­i­ate po­lit­i­cal al­lies were sourc­ing po­lice and mil­i­tary uni­forms from their Western han­dlers with the in­ten­tion of giv­ing them to their ac­tivists to destab­lise the coun­try and paint a pic­ture that the coun­try’s se­cu­rity forces were part of the op­po­si­tion-led demon­stra­tions.

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 ZimEye 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.

Mr Ge­orge Charamba

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