The government has slammed as “reckless, provocative and malicious” a NewsDay report alleging the presence of a Mozambican militia in Zimbabwe.
In a statement, officials accused the private daily of “brazen fake news and yellow journalism” ahead of next month’s elections. The article claimed a Mozambican militia had been deployed in Chipinge by the government to coerce people into voting for Zanu PF.
Deputy Chief Secretary George Charamba said the article was timed to stir up tensions before the polls and harm relations with neighbouring Mozambique.
Charamba blasted the “brazen fake news” and lack of professionalism, saying nothing in the constitution protects it. He called for action by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).
He noted the article repeatedly used the phrase “reportedly”, showing “deliberate malice” and a decision to publish falsehoods. The story was based on an anonymous video clip circulating online aimed at stirring tensions.
Charamba said Zanu PF “needs not do anything” to violate Zimbabwe’s integrity by enlisting foreign security forces as its election campaign momentum is evident.
The government demanded a public apology and retraction from NewsDay publishers Alpha Media with equal prominence. Failure to apologize and retract will lead to “legal options”, Charamba warned.
He urged the mainstream media to uphold professional journalism standards, especially now during the election campaign which has so far been peaceful. “Nothing must be allowed to wreck our hard-won national peace,” he said.