Mirror newspaper agency in Gutu had to run to chief Gutu for protection when soldiers at Mukute Inn threatened to beat him up on Saturday.
The Mirror editor Golden Maunganidze said volumes of newspapers which were supposed to be sold in Gutu were returned to Masvingo as vendors there said they were afraid to be seen selling the paper.
“We have received the newspapers which we had sent to Gutu. Vendors in the area including agencies there said they were afraid to be seen with copies of the paper.The soldiers have accused the paper of tarnishing the image of the army in a number of articles written by the paper early this year,” said Maunganidze.
In its recent edition The Mirror published an article headlined ‘ Soldiers Run Amok at Mpandawana ’ where soldiers beat up people on December 24 and on Christmas day.They also beat up a police officer and the incident was confirmed by both the police and the army itself.
One of the soldiers has been sentenced to one year in prison.
“We are shocked with this kind of operation especially at a time when the government should be seen introducing more newspapers in the media industry,” added Maunganidze.Army provincial spokesperson Kingstone Chivave could not be reached for comment as his mobile was not reachable.Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, Masvingo provincial chairman Energy Bara said the actions of the army were highly embarrassing.
“We condemn the actions by overzealous members of ZNA in the strongest possible terms. What worries us is that the story was not cooked up, as it was based on research and facts. If the army feels defamed by the story in question, they should have taken appropriate action rather than banning sales of newspapers ,” said Bara.
Meanwhile, Zanu (PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa shocked villagers at Mutimurefu Prison grounds on Saturday afternoon when he openly admitted that soldiers were the ones keeping the party intact.
“Those who say soldiers and war veterans should not meddle in politics are wrong, such people are our enemies. Soldiers are the ones helping to keep our party intact,” said Mutasa.He was addressing villagers at a tree planting ceremony.