The United States Embassy in Zimbabwe on Wednesday challenged the ruling partners in the deeply divided national unity government to restore the rule of law and halt an ongoing crackdown on journalists and civil society activists.
In a statement, the Embassy said it noted with “regret and concern the increasing arrests and detention of media workers and civil society activists.”
Police have recently targeted journalists from the weekly Standard newspaper and the Daily News, accusing them of criminal defamation for publishing stories regarding the business interests of senior officials with ties to the former ruling ZANU-PF party.
On Monday they arrested three officers for the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe or in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, who were to appear in court Friday.
MMPZ Director Andrew Moyse was also detained and questioned on Tuesday about a report the media advocacy group had issued in the form of a digital video disk.
US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Sharon Hudson-Dean told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the government should ensure state security officers respect the law.
"We think that this is a very critical time, the new constitution has started to be written," said Hudson-Dean. "So we certainly hope that this process will create a better and peaceful course for the future of this country."
Political analyst Mlamuli Nkomo said the ongoing harassment of journalists and rights activists clearly shows that the authorities are flouting the rule of law.