The United States yesterday protested the increasing number of arrests of journalists and civic activists ahead of the completion of constitutional reforms and proposed elections in Zimbabwe.
Andrew Moyse, head of an independent media monitoring group, was freed from jail late on Tuesday after police raided his offices and seized CDs and DVDs alleged to contain subversive material. Three of his staff arrested on Monday remained in custody in western Zimbabwe.
In a new crackdown by police, four other independent journalists have been arrested since November 15. In a statement yesterday, the United States embassy in Zimbabwe criticized the selective targeting of media figures. It said this was an “important year” in Zimbabwe for constitutional and electoral reform meant to guarantee free expression after years of sweeping media curbs enforced by President Robert Mugabe’s party and loyalist police and security forces.
The embassy said the latest round of arrests went against terms of a coalition agreement between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, that committed their parties to “a free and unfettered media and civil society” essential for future political and economic development.” The statement called on the coalition to uphold the rule of law without bias.
Officials at Moyse’s Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe said yesterday police took away material on Tuesday referring to an armed uprising against Mugabe in western Zimbabwe soon after independence in 1980 that was crushed by loyal troops.