African press review 3 February 2017

As you heard in the news, police in Zimbabwe arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire at Harare International Airport on his return home before he was charged with subverting a constitutional government.

The clergyman was accused of “inciting Zimbabweans from “all walks of life either locally or internationally” to revolt and overthrow the government.”

The Zimbabwean, a private weekly published from the UK and South Africa, a newspaper in exile as it were, runs an opinion piece by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who says “the callous arrest in broad daylight of Pastor Mawarire came as no surprise to those of us who have always known that a leopard remains faithful to its spots.”

“This is vintage Zanu PF and the message coming out of this arrest is that they will go for broke in the campaign ahead of the next election. The world must brace for impunity and violence against the innocent citizens of our country.”

The paper looks at the broader issue of impunity with a front page story headlined “Indiscriminate arrest and torture of vendors.”

Its says the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is concerned by the unwarranted clampdown on vendors by Police in Harare Central Business District.

“Arbitrary arrest, torture, and the propensity of the ZRP officers to use brutal force on citizens is a violation of an individuals’ self-worth and the right to personal liberty, human dignity, personal security and freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment; rights that are all protected in the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the paper says.

As you’d expect, the government-owned daily the Herald sees things differently.

It tells readers that Mawarire, of what it calls “the shadowy #ThisFlag movement”, failed to appear in court as expected yesterday.

Why? The paper thinks police want to add more charged to that of subverting the government.

It tells us that “after his bid flopped, he sneaked the the United States where he tried to mobilise Zimbabweans living there to embarrass President Mugabe.”

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Perish the thought.

The Herald say the clergyman “seems to have been deserted by his supporters who were conspicuous by the absence yesterday.”

The Bulawayo-based Chronicle, also government owned, runs the same story, word for word.

And, as far as I can see, privately-owned Newsday ignores the story entirely.

What price a free press?

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South Africa is blessed with a vigorous free press, such that Business Day is able to lede with the story “Pityana pulls no punches when describing Zuma’s presidency :
businessman Sipho Pityana says the upcoming State of the Nation address ‘will be delivered by the worst … president the ANC has ever had.'”

“Zuma will gloss over the mistakes he has made‚ he will ignore the rampant corruption and abuse that causes the current crises we face‚ and he will roll out another set of promises‚ replete with unintelligible numbers. If it were not so tragic‚ it would be hilarious,” the businessman told journalists.

Next week, Pityana, who leads the Save SA movement, is convening a People’s Assembly dubbed the “real state of the nation address”‚ “to present the truth about the Zuma administration‚ and the truth about SA,” he said.

More on that next week, I expect.

Source: rfi afrique