First Lady bars Daily News from event

HARARE - A news reporting crew from the Daily News was barred from covering a function presided over by First Lady Grace Mugabe at her Mazowe business hub on Wednesday, in yet another glaring example of official intolerance of the independent media in the country.

While the Daily News was ejected from the function, reporters from State media were welcomed warmly and allowed to freely cover the event, where Grace donated part of the proceeds she got from her birthday dinner to various charities.

Grace, whose dislike of the private media, and Daily News in particular, is no secret, is said to have raised up to $3 million during her birthday celebrations at the weekend, which were covered live, and for free, by the ZBC.

Although the Daily News reporter initially managed to get into the Mazowe estate, albeit after being searched thoroughly by security, she was later told to get out after panicky officials were told that they had made a mistake in granting her entry.

The newspaper’s chief photographer, Annie Mpalume, was never even afforded temporary entry into the estate, as security personnel told her that they were waiting for sniffer dogs to search her camera.

The crew was later told by a woman, who claimed to be from the ministry of Information, that they were not welcome and could thus not cover the event.

This is not the first time that the Daily News has suffered harassment at the hands of the country’s authorities and that of the First Lady.

Grace made false claims late last year that former Vice President Joice Mujuru owned a 10 percent stake in the newspaper.

Police subsequently obtained a court order, signed by Harare provincial magistrate Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe, authorising them to search and seize key documents pertaining to the ownership of the newspaper’s parent company Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ).

Two police officers from the CID law and order section stormed the company’s Harare offices six months ago, armed with the warrant of seizure.

Grace first made the outrageous claim that Mujuru had bought a 10 percent shareholding in the country’s leading newspaper, the Daily News, while addressing one of her controversial “Meet the People” rallies at her vast Mazowe business hub in October last year.

Addressing mainly war collaborators and youths, she accused Zimbabwe’s top-selling daily — that was violently and unjustly shut down by her husband’s government in September 2003, and which only returned to the news stalls in late March 2011 — of publishing negative stories about her in the alleged service of Mujuru.

“Don’t be surprised to see negative stories of me every day. She (Mujuru) bought 10 percent of Daily News. Daily News yakatengwa ndosaka muchiona vachingonyora nezvangu (She bought the Daily News that’s why they criticise me),” she said falsely, without batting an eyelid.

A week before that, the quarrelsome and increasingly influential First Lady brazenly incited Zanu PF supporters against journalists from the newspaper at a rally held in Marondera, alleging that the country’s number one media brand was being used by factional leaders to wage a war against her.

Commenting light-heartedly at the time on Grace’s utterances, ANZ group editor Stanley Gama said he could only thank the First Lady for working so hard to market the popular daily “with such admirable zeal”.

“It is good to see that Mrs Mugabe continues to confirm very openly the fact that she, her husband and her family are avid readers of our paper, which is understandable given that hundreds of thousands of other Zimbabweans have long decided that our winning, credible journalism is the best on the market,” he said.

But there was neither humour nor a festive spirit in the conduct of the two police officers who stormed the newspaper’s offices. The court order they had directed the police to search for details of ANZ’s shareholders — information that is easily obtainable from the Registrar of Companies and from media regulation authorities.

Even more surprising, the warrant of seizure itself that they brought to the Daily News’s offices suggested that they already had this information anyway, rendering their mission almost pointless.

Part of the warrant directed that ANZ directors “provide copies of list and details (particulars) of shareholders pertaining to the current allotment for ANZ and any other documents in relation to the said shareholder allotment”.

It further suggested, rather revealingly, that “an offence of criminal abuse of office as defined in section 174 of the Criminal law codification and Reform Act has been committed” — an allegation that Mujuru’s Zanu PF enemies have consistently directed at her.

However, the warrant did not identify who the actual accused was, and was also silent on the nature and details of the alleged offence, just as it did not say where the offence was committed as well as the supposed beneficiary of the abuse.

The Daily News only came back to the market just over three years ago after it was unjustly shut down in 2003 by President Robert Mugabe’s government for “telling it like it is” as its motto goes.

The newspaper and its staff have been under incessant threats and pressure from Zanu PF bigwigs since it came back, including facing hundreds of millions of American dollars in vexatious lawsuits, 99 of which never even reach the courts.

Until Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s contested electoral victories last year, the newspaper was banned from circulating in certain parts of the country, with its editorial staff often still barred from covering some State functions.

Zanu PF apparatchiks have also routinely tried, unsuccessfully, to allege falsely that the newspaper is a beneficiary of Western donor funding.

Comments (14)

Her Highness, the Despotic Czar's mattress testing wife detests the truth being told. . . . . All know that she is a cling-on riding on and siphoning from the gravy train.. . . . . The Czar trusts no one – even her majesty the pfambi. He has no confidants or friends at all. . . . . He worries about who is going to shaft “the queen” after he finally croaks. . . . .

Kangai Chinamasa - 31 July 2015

what makes you think you are the top selling newspaper - junk

peter georg - 31 July 2015

Please keep up the good work that you are doing Daily News. If you were not doing well, people like commissar @peter goerg above would not expend so much time and energy trying to run you down all the time.

Moses - 31 July 2015

ZANU PF'S DAYS IN POWER ARE NUMBERED!

Wilbert Mukori - 31 July 2015

.......and its count down before Cde Stop it runs for space at daily news.

X-MAN IV - 31 July 2015

Mr peter georg;whether the is popular or not is not supposed to be your problem,you can actually go and read about MEGA deals between Zim and Algeria ,Iran etc in your first lady's favourite................

wellers - 31 July 2015

People are instead advertising their companies in this news paper after seeing that the news is not news-worth.

Shit - 2 August 2015

The best thing that could ever happen to ZANU PF is Grace appearing on the scene. She has rocked and divided this organisation like nobody is capable of donig - long may she continue to open her mouth and spew vile and malicious vindictive rumours from it. She thrives on scandal and has serious withdrawal symptoms when deprived of it. As someone else remarked the other day, "Grace is a blessing in disguise."

Festus - 2 August 2015

The name of the person above who signed here using the name @Shit says it all about who they are, and how they think. I shall not say more.

Mercy - 2 August 2015

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