JournalistsOPPOSITION parties have challenged the state to withdraw charges against Newsday journalists Nqaba Matshazi (deputy editor) and reporter Xolisani Ncube who were arrested last week.

The parties warned government that they will have to arrest “everyone” this year because Zimbabweans will demand service delivery which was promised by Zanu PF in the run up to the 2013 elections.

The two journalists who are now out on $200 bail each were arrested Thursday and charged with publishing falsehoods over an article which claimed that government secretly paid members of the CIO their salaries and bonuses in December at a time the rest of the civil service workers were not paid.

In a statement Sunday, the Welshman-led MDC’s spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said intimidating journalists is “a tactic of totalitarian regimes not democratic governments”.

“If government takes legitimacy seriously it should make respect for media freedom a priority in Zimbabwe and we, therefore, call on the responsible authorities to, unconditionally, drop all charges against the reporters and these attempts aimed at intimidating and silencing the media must end,” said Chihwayi.

“As MDC we believe that, in the end, this is not about individual journalists or any specific case, but about citizens’ right to share and receive information and the fourth estate’s role of holding our national leaders, government and its departments accountable.

“We commend the brave journalists for sticking to their mandate of informing the public on the CIOs/ civil servants salary and bonuses story as it is an issue of great public interest, seeing as civil servants had to endure a miserable Christmas after government pleaded bankruptcy.”

Jacob Mafume the Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party spokesperson weighed in saying government will this year arrest the whole nation because people will be demonstrating and demanding service delivery from the “failed” regime.

“Once again Zanu PF is behaving like a cornered rat,” said Mafume.

“Its President and his family are busy eating the fruits of the country in other countries when civil servants have no pay; they pay each other more than the bonuses yet they have the nerve of arresting people who are telling the truth.

“We however want to warn them that this year they have to arrest everyone as the country is falling apart and they are the only ones to blame.”

Author: Staff Reporter

Source: New Zimbabwe

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