By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
19 June 2014
Police in Harare have arrested the new editor of the weekly Sunday Mail newspaper, Edmund Kudzayi, following raids at his home and office.
The police also carried out simultaneous raids at a number of places, including the residence of The Chronicle editor Mduduzi Mathuthu and the offices of the Zimbabwe Independent, looking for its editor Dumisani Muleya.
It was not immediately clear what charges would be brought against Kudzayi. But he was in the news recently when President Robert Mugabe branded Information Minister Jonathan Moyo a ‘devil incarnate’, accusing him of appointing two editors to state-owned newspapers who were sympathetic to the opposition.
Njabulo Ncube, the chairman of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (MISA), deplored the raids, calling on the authorities to protect the journalists and not hunt them down like criminals.
‘I can confirm that Kudzayi is in police custody and it’s not clear why he has been arrested. But it has nothing to do with criminal defamation, so we are concerned about his welfare and arbitrary search for the two other editors, namely Dumisani Muleya and Mduduzi Mathuthu,’ Ncube said.
In April the Zimpapers group chief executive Justin Mutasa appointed Kudzayi, an ally of Jonathan Moyo, as editor of The Sunday Mail. He replaced Brezhnev Malaba, whose removal sparked consternation among ZANU PF stalwarts, especially those from the Bulawayo region where Malaba hails from.
There are reports that Kudzayi is the founder of African Aristocrat, a website that in 2010 published allegations that Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, was raped in Malaysia. Kudzayi faces allegations that he is also the founder of the pro ZANU PF Amai Jukwa social media character, that led to the creation of the counter character Baba Jukwa.
Another appointment that raised eyebrows in ZANU PF circles was that of Mathuthu, the former NewZimbabwe.com editor, to the Bulawayo based daily The Chronicle. Both Mathuthu and Kudzayi spent years living in the UK and sometimes published articles critical of Mugabe and his party.
At the recent funeral of Nathan Shamuyarira Robert Mugabe accused Jonathan Moyo of sowing seeds of division within his cabinet and party by appointing journalists known for being critics of ZANU PF and its policies.
During a Politburo meeting recently, Moyo reportedly defended the two editors arguing that ‘people can repent and should be forgiven.’
Following the raids on the editors on Wednesday morning Mathuthu appeared to deny being targeted, by writing on Twitter that it was robbers who had entered his house and stolen electrical devices. But MISA Zimbabwe stated that Mathuthu’s home had also been raided.
Itai Dzamara, editor of the weekly The News Leader newspaper, told us the crackdown on the editors was linked to the ZANU PF factional battles.
Dzamara said it was sad that a Jonathan Moyo appointee was facing the wrath of the law, an indication that the Information Minister has abandoned his ‘blue eyed boys.’
‘This shows you the level of factionalism tearing ZANU PF apart. Some people in the party just want to show how powerless Moyo is when it comes to who calls the shots in the ruling party,’ Dzamara said.