War vets' attack on scribes appalling

HARARE - We are appalled by the repetition of violent intimidation against our journalists in the line of duty and specifically at the New Government Complex in Harare on Tuesday.

This deplorable act of thuggery and intimidation — unleashed by pseudo war veterans demanding a gratuity increase worries us, especially when people are trying to do their job.

Similar demands 14 years ago by over 50 000 war veterans for gratuities crashed the Zimbabwe dollar and became the tinder for economic meltdown the country is still grappling with.

Government was forced to pay billions of unbudgeted dollars to fund their demands.

The unruly war veterans manhandled our reporters, threatened to storm the Daily News offices and tried to incite late-afternoon shoppers to manhandle and do bodily harm to our team by shouting that the journalists were thieves. It is disturbing that the incident occurred in the presence of law enforcement officials who were silent spectators to this orgy of intimidation.

This is not the first time we have complained about thuggish behaviour by war veterans.

There was absolutely no need for such high-handedness by the ex-liberation fighters in dealing with media personnel who were merely trying to get facts and report accurately on their picket.

Attacking journalists is totally unacceptable. The repeat intimidation committed under the very noses of authorities is totally reprehensible and we condemn it.

We urge authorities to identify the perpetrators and take stringent measures against them.

And, authorities must also stop the war veterans from harassing Cabinet ministers doing their best under very difficult circumstances.

Elsewhere in this edition we report that war veterans’ picket at the New Government Complex is beginning to affect government business.

Finance minister Tendai Biti failed to meet bankers yesterday because he could not access his offices.

In the long run, law enforcement authorities have an obligation to the general public to straighten out the nagging problems associated with lawlessness by war veterans.

Complaints against war veterans range from waging violence and terror against Zanu PF opponents at every election to ensure stolen victory for the party.

We implore President Robert Mugabe, as patron of the war veterans, to call these goons to order.

They cannot be allowed to be a law unto themselves. We know they are the centrepiece of Zanu PF’s electioneering machine.

Now it seems we are to add physical assault to the list of complaints against them. It is high time these irregularities were straightened out and in future we do not expect to see a repetition of such draconian actions on the media. - Staff Writer

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