It is alleged the police were acting on the orders of Mzembi who wants the reporter charged for criminal defamation for publishing a story that linked him to the theft of President Robert Mugabe’s birthday gifts in February.
Mzembi, also Masvingo south legislator, is said to have instructed Officer commanding CID Masvingo district, only identified as Superintendent Magamba, to lock up Golden Maunganidze, the Editor of Masvingo Mirror last Monday.
Mzembi is a accusing Maunganidze of authoring the story that linked him to the disappearance of hundreds of tonnes of sugar donated to
President Mugabe on his 86th birthday celebrations. He said the story was published in his paper and was picked up by other papers including online publications.
Maunganidze went into hiding after Magamba stormed his offices and questioned him. He told him that Mzembi had made a report at the Harare central police station.
Police in Masvingo declined to comment a referred all the questions to their headquarters in Harare.
Maunganidze’s whereabouts are not known but Mirror news editor Tatenda Chitagu confirmed that the journalist was in hiding.
“We are very worried about our Editor’s whereabouts since the day police wanted to arrest him. He just disappeared and never told anyone where he was going. But the last time I talked to him he was so terrified and kept on insisting that he was afraid of being tortured and harassed by police if he was detained,” he said.
His mobile phone was switched off.
The government has been accused of using criminal defamation law as a weapon to silence journalist in the country despite hopes from the
media fraternity of a few positive changes in their working environment.
Five Harare based journalist were last week summoned to court to answer charges over a story linking business mogul Phillip Chiyangwa and local government minister, Ignatius Chombo to a serious land scandal in the capital city.
The five, Vincent Kahiya, Nevanji Madanhire, Jennifer Dube, and Feluna Muleya of the Standard and Stanley Gama of the Sunday Times are being charged for writing stories based on a city of Harare report about Chiyangwa’s land deals.
Media bodies have also attacked the govenrment with ZUJ Secretary general Foster Dongozi describing the action as scoring a spectacular own goal while MISA said the it was an attempt to silence the media and society as a whole.
Mzembi refused to comment on the matter.