HOME Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema has expressed serious concern over local media houses pushing for regime change by publishing fictitious stories after the NewsDay yesterday lied that the Zimbabwe Republic Police was hunting down 25 soldiers allegedly involved in looting.
The article was published under the headline, “Police dossier nails army in rights abuses . . . 25 soldiers sought in looting case”.
The story claimed that leaked internal ZRP documents suggested that the army was responsible for alleged murders, rape and armed robberies during an operation to contain demonstrations witnessed in the country recently.
It claimed police officers frustrated by “the apparent impunity of the military” had leaked the dossier to United Kingdom-based newspaper, The Guardian.
In a statement last night, Minister Mathema said: “The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, has noted with grave concern an increase of media groups whose agenda is now very clear. They are pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe.”
“The story in the NewsDay edition of 31st January, 2019 cannot go unchallenged, which story is reproduced from The Guardian. The headline on the NewsDay states that, ‘Police dossier nails army in rights abuses . . . 25 soldiers sought in looting case’, which creates a misconception that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is desperately pursuing leads to arrest 25 soldiers who have committed crime.”
Minister Mathema said the story was written on the basis of “sources”.
“This story was written and completed on the basis of sources and in order to give it credence a comment was then conveniently sought from the police. It it clear from the onset that the motive was to have an official comment from the police irrespective of whether police confirmed or not, thus justifying their story,” he added.
Minister Mathema said he checked with Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to verify the authenticity of the NewsDay story.
“He has informed me that if they had such a case he would have briefed my ministry straight away as is the norm. We therefore want to dismiss claims by The Guardian and the NewsDay that 25 soldiers are being sought for looting,” said Minister Mathema.
He reiterated that any person who has been violated must come forward and report to the police.
“We cannot have suspects without reported cases hence we are challenging those who allege that they were victims of any crime to report their cases to the police to pave way for investigations. The flurry of these stories are meant to please the peddlers’ masters, their desire is to change the narrative that those involved in public violence are not the criminals, but victims.
“We wish therefore to categorically dismiss these claims and challenge those with genuine complaints to report to the police,” said Minister Mathema.
Ever since the MDC-Alliance instigated violence, which saw lives lost, shops looted and property destroyed, the private media has gone into overdrive blaming Government and security forces.
Some are even importing pictures of torture from elsewhere to claim lawlessness in Zimbabwe.