Zimbabwean police on Monday brought another charge of criminal defamation against two journalists from the privately-owned weekly Standard newspaper arrested last week for allegedly defaming an official of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Editor Nevanji Madanire and reporter Nqaba Matshazi were summoned by the police and charged with defaming Co-Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, an official of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.
They were made to sign warned-and-cautioned statements pending arraignment.
The charges arose from a story by Matshazi that was published on October 1, saying Mohadi was embroiled in an acrimonious land wrangle with resettled farmers in Beitbridge, Matabeleland South province.
Quoting letters from the resettled farmers, the Standard reported that Mohadi wants to evict the farmers and resettle his relatives.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Secretary-General Foster Dongozi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the second charges brought against Matshazi and Madanhire show clearly that independent journalists are under attack.
"We are often accused of tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe," Dongozi said. "But it is not the journalists who are doing this. "It's rogue police officers working with politicians.
Njabulo Ncube, chairman of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, commented that the Zimbabwean government should stop trying to muzzle the press.