The editor of Zimbabwe’s Standard, Davison Maruziva, has been arrested
for publishing an opinion article by opposition leader Arthur Mutambara,
writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.

The article by Mutambara was published on the 20th of April, two days after the country celebrated its 28th independence anniversary.

National Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the article was held to be false statements prejudicial to the state.

The piece, headed “A Shameful Betrayal of National Independence”, attacked President Robert Mugabe, the government, Zanu-PF and South African President Thabo Mbeki, the Sadc-appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis.

Mutambara accuses Mbeki of being “ Mugabe’s “partner in crime”.

“Yes, Mr. Mbeki … We are sick and tired of your shameless antics. You clamour that Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa , and yet you treat us worse than your mother’s backyard. Whatever credibility and political capital you had left from Polokwane, you are busy dissipating with reckless abandon.”

Police have say they will also arrest Mutambara if he comes back from South Africa where he is currently based.

Maruziva’s other charge arises from an editorial he wrote criticizing Justice Tendayi Uchena’s judgement over the case in which the MDC challenged government to release the March 29 presidential election results. Police say it was in contempt of court.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president, Matthew Takaona, said: “What is happening in Zimbabwe is disheartening. Journalists are being harassed while they are at work pursuing lawful activities. This kind of harassment should not be tolerated at all.”

Meanwhile, Reuters photographer Howard Burditt has been released on bail after spending three days in jail.

Burditt, a Zimbabwean national, was arrested for using a satellite phone to file photographs of the post-election violence taking place in the country. Although the agency and the photo journalist are fully accredited according to the country’s tough media laws, police maintain that it is illegal to use a satellite phone unless it has been registered.

David Schlesinger, Reuters editor-in-chief, says: "I am extremely relieved that Howard has been released but disturbed that he should have been held in jail for so long on such a charge."

Also the lawyer representing jailed freelance journalist Frank Chikowore is still in custody after being locked up for a statement he uttered in court.

Police say the lawyer Harrison Nkomo who is hired by MISA –Zimbabwe was arrested on charges of making dangerous public utterances against the head of state in contravention of Section 33 of the Criminal Law Act.

It is alleged that Nkomo, while trying to secure the release of Chikowore, allegedly shouted insults at one Michael Mugabe, a law officer in the Attorney General’s office who is believed to be a relative of the president.

The lawyer allegedly said: “My friend can you go and tell your father (President Mugabe) that he must go because he has failed to run this country. Tell him we have suffered enough in this country.”

Chikowore was arrested for filming a burning bus during a strike called by the MDC to force government to release the presidential poll results. He now faces charges of public violence with other MDC activists. Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa postponed the case to June 11.