Pro-Makandiwa group burns Daily News copies

HARARE - A group of people wearing regalia associated with self-acclaimed prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa yesterday turned to rowdy tactics in a bid to muzzle the Daily News.

Barely a week after Makandiwa asked the State-controlled  Zimbabwe Media Council (ZMC) to severely punish the Daily News, a gang —whose regalia showed they could be his followers — bought copies of the newspaper in Mutare, “cursed” the editorial content and burnt the papers.

The Saturday edition of the Daily News led with a story headlined “Knives out for Makandiwa”, something which could have enraged Makandiwa’s followers.

The story was on media freedom advocates condemning a move by Makandiwa to have authorities shut down the Daily News.

A vendor who was at the scene said the gang was wearing wristbands resembling those worn by Makandiwa followers bearing the name of their church — United Family International Ministries.

At least 29 copies of the paper were burnt, the vendors said.

The gang of seven bought remaining copies of the Daily News at a news stand located at Mutare Pumps Supply along Second and Herbert Chitepo streets which they “cursed” and burnt.

Netsai Maswera, a newspaper vendor situated at nearby newsstand said the gang also bought all 19 copies she had left and burnt them before her eyes.

“They usually buy many copies of the Daily News each time there is a Makandiwa story but today they bought all I had left,” she said.

“Two of the seven people continually pointed at the story saying ‘its rubbish vashaya nyaya yekunyora here (have they run out of news stories)?’ They lit up the papers and I could see their wristbands, which are similar to those worn by Makandiwa’s followers,” said Maswera.

Maswera said other vendors told her of similar tales.

This is certain to draw even more outrage from campaigners of a free media, who on Friday expressed outrage at Makandiwa’s bid to silence the Daily News.

Makandiwa drew the ire of media bodies and some church leaders after he approached the ZMC, the body in charge of regulating and deregistering media houses and journalists, seeking severe action against the Daily News.

The move by the controversial preacher comes soon after he withdrew his High Court action against the paper in which he was demanding $2 million for allegedly failing to publish an apology over an error that appeared in the Daily News’ poster in December last year.

The poster read: Anglican saga sucks in Makandiwa instead of Anglican saga sucks in banks.

In his request to ZMC Makandiwa wants the body to use its power under chapter 10:27 of the notorious Access to Information and Protect ion of Privacy Act (Aippa) to deregister the newspaper.

The Daily News is not new to hostility.

It has in the past been bombed by unknown assailants and shut down by the government.

Supporters of political parties such as Zanu PF have routinely burnt copies of the newspaper.

But this is the first time to record a case in which people who purport to be Christians have resorted to burning copies of the newspaper. - Staff Writer

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