Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda and MMPZ’s Public Information Rights Forum Committee chairperson for Gwanda Gilbert Mabusa are being held in connection with a civic education meeting they facilitated in the town two weeks ago on November 24.
Kossam Ncube represented the trio while Blessing Gundani appeared for the state.
In his bail application Ncube had argued that the three deserved bail as they had handed themselves to the police while the state argued they were a flight risk. The state also said the 2nd and 3rd respondents Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda were so young that they could start a new life elsewhere.
“Now there is nothing we can do and we have to wait for Friday,” said Ncube.
The two also alleged that some plain clothes police had harassed and intimidated them in the middle of the night on Monday when they came to beat up some inmates.
Fadzai claims she was repeatedly poked on the forehead while Molly was held by her jacket with police officers demanding to know why they had been arrested.
They are being charged under the notorious Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for failing to give notice of the meeting. They are also being charged in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for “participating in a gathering with the intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry’.
Meanwhile the United States condemned what it described as the renewed clampdown on journalists and media workers in Zimbabwe following the brief detention of MMPZ (MMPZ) director Andy Moyse on Wednesday.
Five detectives seized copies of compact discs and DVDs believed to contain material on the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands before arresting Moyse who was later released without any charges.
The arrest and raid followed the detention of the three MMPZ officials in Gwanda.
“This has been an important year in laying the groundwork for a new constitution, which will hopefully set a better, more peaceful course for the future of all Zimbabweans,” read part of the statement released by the embassy.
“Ultimately, good laws are only as good as their implementation, and the abrogation of the rule of law in the service of individuals or partisan interests undermines the interests and security of the state.
“The free flow of information and a strong civil society are critical to the process of political and economic development.”
At the formation of the unity government in 2009, the three governing parties committed themselves to end repression against the media and institute urgent reforms.
But three years on, the clampdown against independent journalists has not ended and the public media has stepped up its propaganda against opponents of Zanu (PF).
“The United States calls on the three parties to the Global Political Agreement to pro-actively implement their written commitments to a free and unfettered media and civil society and to allow Zimbabweans their right to receive and impart news and information from a diversity of sources,” the statement added.
“We further call on the three parties to enforce their commitment to ensuring that all state organs and institutions strictly observe the rule of law and remain non-partisan and impartial.”
In the last three weeks, police have arrested four journalists from the privately owned Daily News and The Standard newspapers on criminal defamation charges.