Zimbabwean Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri has come under fire for declaring this week that the results of national elections if they are held in 2011 as many expect will only be accepted if President Robert Mugabe is the winner.
Chihuri is considered to be aligned with Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai – likely to be challenging Mr. Mugabe for the presidency as he did in 2008 – called Chihuri's statement treasonous.
Law Society of Zimbabwe President Josphat Tshuma told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that such statements are likely to encourage lawlessness coming as they do from a custodian of the law. The 2008 presidential runoff election in particular was marred by widespread and often deadly violence, mainly directed at Tsvangirai supporters.
In another development related to the Zimbabwe National Police, Standard newspaper editor Nevanji Madanhire, arrested Tuesday and charged with issuing a statement prejudicial to the state, was released Wednesday on US$100 bail.
Madanhire is due be back in court on December 16 on those charges brought by police in connection with an article written by Bulawayo-based reporter Nqobani Ndlovu, which said police recruited war veterans ahead of widely anticipated 2011 elections.
Attorney Chris Mhike told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that Madhanire’s defense will be the same as Ndlovu’s – that the article was based on facts and that it was not prejudicial to the police though it may have displeased them.
Nhlanhla Ngwenya, director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe, told Brenda Moyo that harrassment of journalists signals further repression to come amid rising expectations of new general and presidential elections next year.