Govt refutes NewsDay Mozambique campaign story


Harare (New Ziana) – The government has dismissed a story by a local daily newspaper on Tuesday alleging that the ruling Zanu PF party had enlisted the electoral campaign services of Mozambique’s governing authorities for next month’s elections as ‘reckless, malicious, offensive and provocative yellow journalism’ which Zimbabwe is best without.

In a front-page article on Tuesday, NewsDay, one of the country’s four daily newspapers, alleged that Mozambique’s ruling FRELIMO party had deployed its officials to Zimbabwe’s border district of Chipinge to campaign for Zanu PF in the August 23 general elections.

The newspaper’s report appeared to be based on an unverified video of a man purportedly from Frelimo campaigning in Chipinge for a Zanu-PF parliamentary candidate, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The two countries share a long border stretching hundreds of kilometres.

In a statement, deputy chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet in charge of presidential communications, George Charamba said the NewsDay report was not only false, but maliciously intended to ‘raise political temperatures in the country’ and spoil good relations between the two countries.

“The report is 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,” he said.
Charamba asked the publication to retract the story, and apologise, failure of which he threatened government legal action.

“Government thus demands an immediate public apology from AMH, and an unconditional retraction of this offensive article by the newspaper concerned. Further, the 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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

Charamba urged the country’s media regulator, the Zimbabwe Media Commission, to look into ‘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 social media,” he said.

“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,” said Charamba.

New Ziana

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