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Zimbabwe police charge and release editor

Dumisani Muleya and the chief reporter of the Zimbabwe Independent charged after being held for writing "falsehoods".

Last Modified: 07 May 2013 21:22
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The article in question claimed that the PM's party was talking to top officials to ease the path to elections [File: EPA]

The editor and chief reporter of a leading private weekly newspaper in Zimbabwe, who had earlier been arrested for "contravening the a section of the country's criminal law," have been charged and released, according to a local news report.

Dumisani Muleya and Owen Gagare of the Zimbabwe Independent were said to have been detained for publishing "falsehoods" in a story two weeks ago.

According to the newspaper the police "proceed by way of summons".

The article in question claimed that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change was talking to top officials, including military commanders, to ease the path to elections expected later this year.

The branches of state security in Zimbabwe are dominated by supporters of veteran President Robert Mugabe, who is seeking re-election in upcoming polls which are seen as likely to end a shaky Mugabe-Tsvangirai coalition.

The talks with Mugabe's top brass were a bid to "allay fears they would be removed if President Robert Mugabe is defeated," the article said.

Quoting "military sources," it said the discussions were also aimed at "preventing possible political instability or a potential coup if Tsvangirai trounces Mugabe".

The report has already been met with a furious rebuttal from the military.

Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of Zimbabwe's defence force, told state media he would not meet with Tsvangirai.

"We have no time to meet a sellout. Clearly Tsvangirai is a psychiatric patient who needs a competent psychiatrist," he was quoted as saying.

Independent media outlets have found it difficult to operate in the country under the government of Mugabe.

Last week, the president was declared a press "predator" by Reporters without Borders, a watchdog for press freedom.

Meanwhile, the head of the youth wing of Tsvangirai's party, Solomon Madzore, who was rearrested after calling President Robert Mugabe a "limping donkey" at an election rally in April, was given a second week in jail. 

"He had been granted $100 bail but prosecutors applied to have the bail revoked saying police still needed to complete investigations," lawyer Andrew Makoni told AFP news agency.

He could remain imprisoned for a number of months, or may have to pay a fine. 

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