APRIL 20, 2005
Posted: April 27, 2005

Davison Maruziva, The Standard

Savious Kwinika, The Standard

Police brought criminal charges against Standard editor Maruziva. The following day they also brought charges against reporter Kwinika. Both journalists were charged in connection with an April 10 story alleging election irregularities—specifically for deliberately publishing false information prejudicial to the state, according to their lawyer Linda Cook. The journalists subsequently admitted inaccuracies in the story, authored by Kwinika, but said these inaccuracies were not intentional and pleaded not guilty.

Kwinika and Maruziva were charged under Section 15 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) or, in the alternative, Section 80 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Cook told CPJ.

The government used these laws to detain and harass dozens of independent journalists. It used AIPPA to shutter four critical publications including the country’s only independent daily, The Daily News. The Standard is one of Zimbabwe’s few remaining independent newspapers.

The offending story, entitled “Ballot boxes found at home,” alleged that police had arrested Zaka District Administrator Nyashadzashe Zindove after ballot boxes and ballot papers were found at his home. A teacher, who was also a presiding officer in the March 31 general elections, had also been arrested after she allegedly lost a ballot box in unclear circumstances, the paper said.

However, the paper later admitted that some of the information on which the story had been based was wrong. On April 24 The Standard published another story admitting that Zindove had been wrongly named. “In fact, no ballot boxes or papers were found at his home, nor was he arrested,” the paper said. On the other hand, it reported that acting District Administrator John Dzinorama Mubako and the teacher Norah Chisi had been charged under Zimbabwe’s Electoral Act for failing to transmit ballot books to the constituency election officer.

In its April 17 edition, The Standard issued an apology to Zindove and his family, Cook told CPJ.