18 January 1999


Zimbabwean defence ministry continues to detain journalist

Incident details

Mark Chavunduka



(FXI/IFEX) - Demonstrators marched through the streets of Harare on 16
January 1999 in protest against the detention of the editor of "The
Standard", Mark Chavunduka, at Cranborne barracks. Chavunduka was detained
on 12 January following a story his newspaper ran that twenty three army
officers had been arrested for their involvement in a coup plot against
President Robert Mugabe.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 15 January and 13 January 1999**
According to reports, the Zimbabwean judiciary has engaged in a standoff
with the military police, who have defied a 14 January Harare High Court
order to release Chavunduka. Justice George Smith ordered the defence force
to refrain from harassing Chavunduka and from having contact with him after
declaring that his detention was illegal. In response to that, defence
secretary Job Whabira said the judge cannot direct them and the military was
not bound by the order to release Chavunduka. Also detained was Chavunduka's
co-worker, Daniel Manyandure, who refused to disclose his sources after
reporting on the country's military involvement in the Democratic Republic
of Congo and fatalities there. He was later released after an hour of

An application made by lawyers representing "The Standard" is due to be
heard on 18 January in the Zimbabwe High Court forcing the defence ministry
to produce Chavunduka in court and to arrest Whabira and Defence Minister
Moven Mahachi if they fail to release Chavunduka. Mahachi has lashed out at
journalists working for the independent media, labelling them "corrupt
liars" and "mercenaries" with "ulterior motives."

On 14 January, the South African National Editors' Forum joined the
Zimbabwean Union of Journalists in condemning the arrest. The Media Workers'
Association of South Africa said journalists should be free to investigate
any issues of concern to the public.


Freedom of Expression Institute
PO Box 30668 Braamfontein 2017
21st floor, Sable Centre, 41 De Korte Street
Braamfontein, Johannesburg 2001
South Africa
jduncan (@) fxi.org.za
Fax:+27 11 339 4109

More on this case

"Standard" journalists' trial date set 15 March 2000 Tortured journalists' trial deferred 7 January 2000 Court clears minister of contempt charges; spares newspaper costs 15 March 1999 Court rules for journalists to seek medical treatment, state appeals 24 February 1999 IFJ condemns Zimbabwe for arrests and torture 12 February 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1999 Medical report details torture of two journalists 10 February 1999 Human Rights Watch protests new crackdown on Zimbabwe's independent media 10 February 1999 RSF protests deteriorating press freedom situation 9 February 1999 Three more journalists arrested 8 February 1999 ARTICLE 19 to support journalists' legal bid 3 February 1999 Newspaper director released unconditionally; government promises to crack down on bad press against military 27 January 1999 Police blockade peaceful protest 27 January 1999 Newspaper's managing editor appears in court 27 January 1999 NDIMA protests detention of journalist 25 January 1999 Fears for newspaper director high 25 January 1999 Journalists sent for full medical check-up amid disclosure of torture ordeal; further attacks on journalists; protest held in Namibia 22 January 1999 Journalists released on bail 21 January 1999 Detained journalists appear in court 21 January 1999 MISA concerned for health and well-being of detained journalists 21 January 1999 Journalists tortured while in custody 21 January 1999 WAN protests continued illegal detention of journalist 21 January 1999 Zimbabwean defence ministry continues to detain journalist 18 January 1999 Journalist still detained 15 January 1999 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 WAN condemns Zimbabwe press crackdown 11 February 1998 Editor arrested 13 January 1999
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