Zim Presidential Spokesperson Warns Local Media Against Reporting on Al Jazeera Documentary

The Al Jazeera documentary that exposes alleged corruption and illegal gold trade by allies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has drawn a stern warning from presidential spokesperson George Charamba. He cautioned the local media against repeating the claims made by the documentary, saying they would face legal action.

The documentary, which features Mnangagwa’s ambassador-at-large Uebert Madzanire, also known as Uebert Angel, confessing to money laundering and smuggling activities, has caused a stir in the government and the ruling Zanu PF party.

The second episode of the documentary is expected to be aired today, after the first one was broadcast on March 23.

Charamba, who uses the Twitter handle Tinoedza Zvimwe, said Al Jazeera was not a court of law that could protect defamatory statements. He said it was a “weaponised channel” that was politically motivated.

He warned: “If you are reckless enough to repeat what its phoney documentary defamatorily says hoping to plead ‘I heard/saw it on Al Jazeera’, you will be sorry for yourself.”

He added: “Do not for once think there is no grit to act against reckless, defamatory and politically-motivated journalism. Faceless Twitter names egging you on will not be a factor when brickbats come. Be warned.”

Charamba refused to comment further when contacted by NewsDay, saying his tweet was clear and complete.

However, his remarks have been condemned by media practitioners.

Thabani Moyo, the regional director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, told NewsDay that journalists have a constitutional right to do their work without harassment. He said public officials should not use threats to induce fear and self-censorship among journalists, thereby compromising the citizens’ right to access information.

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