Media to boycott reform conference

Veteran broadcaster and leading human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, and freelance journalist Andrison Manyere, as well as 13 members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been charged with terrorism, banditry and sabotage. The 15 people who have been re-arrested were released on bail two months ago.

The decision to remand Mukoko and Manyere in custody has caused consternation among journalists, civic society and the opposition MDC, as they were released on recommendation of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC).

The committee oversees the smooth implementation of the Global Political Agreement that underpins the unity government, which was signed by Zimbabwe’s three main political parties.

The appeal for bail is expected to be heard this week, and two members of JOMIC are expected to attend in support of the accused.

''We find it very difficult to sit down and discuss a cause with people who are busy undermining it''

The ZUJ, the largest organisation of journalists in the country, announced that it was pulling out of a planned conference on media reforms, to be attended by all stakeholders in the industry, organised by the government in protest over the ongoing crackdown on journalists.

"We find it very difficult to sit down and discuss a cause with people who are busy undermining it," ZUJ said in a statement.

MAZ said it found it "impossible to participate in the government All Stakeholders conference when human rights defenders and journalists such as Mukoko and Manyere, who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, continue to be targets of repression."

Irene Petras, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the development was an indication that the justice system had failed.

"No matter how many legal processes are initiated and pursued, unless these processes are considered by professional and independent institutions, complemented by political will and respect for the rule of law, these individuals and others will continue to remain unprotected and exposed to such types of miscarriages of justice and abuse of the judicial process," she said.

A Harare magistrate has signed the paperwork for indictment, allowing the state to proceed with the trial, which will begin in July.

A chief law officer in the attorney general’s office, Michael Mugabe, a nephew of President Robert Mugabe, requested that the court remand the accused in prison.