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Newsletters Arouse Political Ire, Prompt Investigation By Zimbabwe Authorities

Newsletters issued by the office of Zimbabwe's prime minister and a legal rights group have drawn criticism and scrutiny from the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the Central Intelligence Organization, the country's main security agency.

Senior ZANU-PF officials and independent House Member Jonathan Moyo, a former ZANU-PF information minister, criticized the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for publishing a newsletter about his current tour of Western capitals. The newsletter appeared on the Web site of the prime minister, and thousands of print copies were also distributed.

The ZANU-PF officials and Moyo called this a breach of protocol, maintaining that Mr. Tsvangirai should have briefed the cabinet before informing the public.

But Johannesburg-based political analyst Walter Nsununguli Mbongolwane told reporter Brenda Moyo of VOA's Studio 7 that the newsletter was created well in advance of the trip as a way to inform Zimbabweans given scant coverage by the state media establishment.

Elsewhere, the publication of a newsletter by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights led to inquiries by the Central Intelligence Organization, an organization source said.

The legal defenders group published 5,000 copies of a four-page newsletter detailing cases involving the arrests of journalists and lawyers, among others.

After the newsletter was distributed, two apparent state security agents visited the group’s office demanding to speak with the person responsible for the publication.

Attorney Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe Lawyers’ for Human Rights told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his organization wanted to make details on the cases the group has been handling available to average Zimbabweans.

He said Zimbabwean media law is unclear on whether the publication of a newsletter aimed at the members and supporters of a civic group needs official authorization.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...