Daily News editor, reporter arrested

HARARE - Police yesterday arrested the Group Editor of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News, Stanley Gama, and senior writer Fungi Kwaramba, at the instigation of controversial businessman, Kamal Khalfan, over stories linking the Omani citizen to underhand deals in Zimbabwe.

The two spent three hours at Highlands Police Station where they were made to sign warned caution statements before being released.

But a few minutes after he was released, Gama was informed that police at Harare Central Police Station also wanted him in for questioning over a defamation case reported last year by maverick Bikita West legislator, Munyaradzi Kereke.

Khalfan, who owns Catercraft among other businesses, has already sued the Daily News for a whopping $10 million in a civil lawsuit before the country’s High Court, bringing under the spotlight the controversial and draconian Criminal Defamation law which the government says Daily News editor arrested it wants scrapped as it infringes on human rights.



Kamal Khalfan seen here with Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services boss Paradzai Zimondi (centre) and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe.

Khalfan’s case also shines a searching light on the unity of purpose within the government over the current national fight against corruption.

In an interview with the State media, Information minister Jonathan Moyo said the criminal defamation law in legal statutes had caused “more harm than good”.

““The issue has been repeatedly raised in the engagement we have had with the media industry and the concerns that have been raised are serious, genuine, important and urgent.

“Obviously, there’s a need for wider and deeper consultations on this matter within and outside Government.

“As a ministry that oversees the media industry, which is the most affected by criminal defamation, we are persuaded and therefore convinced that the days of having criminal defamation in our statutes now lie in the past.

“Indeed, and although we are not the authority with the power to interpret the law, we nevertheless believe that the constitutionality of criminal defamation under our country’s new constitutional dispensation is questionable, especially given the inherent vagueness of the criteria which are supposed to be used to decide whether the defamation was sufficiently serious to justify the invocation of the criminal sanction,” Moyo said.

But, with the law still in place, Khalfan — who holds a British passport and is the honorary counsel of the Sultan of Oman — accuses Gama, Kwaramba and ANZ of having published material when there was “real risk or possibility that it might be false in material” thereby risking causing “serious harm to the reputation of Kamal Khalfan or created a real risk or possibility of causing harm to Kamal Khalfan’s reputation”.

The Daily News denies the allegations and is defending the action.

In January, the Daily News carried stories on how businessmen such as Khalfan were using their influence and political connectivity to introduce investors to President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe himself recently revealed that a minister and a Member of Parliament had demanded a $70 000,00 bribe from foreign investors to introduce them to him.

Zimbabwe is awash with businessmen or fixers who arrange meetings with politicians and stitch deals together for multi-million dollar fees.

In the contested e-mails seen by the Daily News, a German national, Dietrich Herzog, requests that Khalfan — who claims in the e-mails to be politically-connected — assist him to acquire diamonds from top government officials using opaque methods.

Khalfan confirmed knowledge of Dietrich and the e-mails at the time that the Daily News wrote the stories.

Renowned Harare lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the two scribes, said the stories in question were published from a credible source and, were also published in the public interest — adding that at any rate, “the complainant has already sued the Daily News for the same matter in the High Court of Zimbabwe”.

With the government keen on re-building bridges with the media, observers say the unfolding case is going to test the commitment of authorities to a freer information dispensation, particularly as the case could unnecessarily bring Zimbabwe back “in the global limelight for all the wrong reasons”.

Comments (8)

Well, the daily news has nothing to fear if their stories were factual, but if you wrote the stories in order to appease your paymasters and damage someone's reputation, then the businessman has every right to take you down the sewer.

reason - 8 April 2014

Trying to protect murungu - and his sidekicks vanaBonyongwe. They are all corrupt people as is everyone in the zanu govt. Mabavha dzoga dzoga kutanga naMugabe.

Tongogara - 8 April 2014

Trying to protect murungu - and his sidekicks vanaBonyongwe. They are all corrupt people as is everyone in the zanu govt. Mabavha dzoga dzoga kutanga naMugabe.

Tongogara - 8 April 2014

Criminal defamation? what nonsense is that? Defamation can and should only be a civil matter. Juvenile exhuberance of the Zimbabwean legislative branch of government that came up with this silly piece of legislation mainly to protect Bob and Zanu connected individuals from robust scrutiny.

Galore 123 - 8 April 2014

But mobva maita headline here shuwa, a report about yourself. Pliz Daily News grow up.

Observer - 8 April 2014

@Observer. What do you mean kubva vazviita headline? All stories have headlines! Now, who needs to grow up and learn??

spraga - 9 April 2014

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