President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe took a swipe at journalists on Monday while in Malaysia participating in a high-level conference on poverty reduction.
Mr. Mugabe, one of 42 heads of state invited by Kuala Lumpur to the 8th Langkawi International Dialogue, accused journalists of generating reports “deliberately intended to tarnish” Zimbabwe’s reputation and “deceive” the public.
"The press and journalists, are they driven by the sense of honesty and objectivity all the time?" Reuters quoted Mugabe saying during the only session of the conference that was open to journalists."Or are they swayed from objectivity and truth by certain notions arising from their own subjective views?"
He continued: "I say that in the light of reports quite often deliberately intended to tarnish and deceive. Should the journalists really indulge in what they know to be misleading stories, and therefore stories that go against objectivity and the truth?"
The Malaysia Dialogue, which has been held every two years since 1995, is intended to foster creative partnerships among nations, businesses and society.
This year’s gathering focuses on the eradication of poverty through the development of human capital - people, that is - and capacity building, jargon among development specialists for increasing the ability of public institutions to meet national needs.
More than 500 participants from Southeast Asia and Africa were to participate in the conference in from Monday through Wednesday in the island resort of Langkawi.
Democracy and Governance Director Peter Kagwanja of the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa noted in an interview with reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Malaysia is one of Zimbabwe's few remaining economic partners following Harare's break with the West.
Director Rashweat Mukundu of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Zimbabwe chapter said Mr. Mugabe’s attacks on the media reflect the president's disregard for the important role played by the media.