A Zimbabwean reporter who writes for the local daily NewsDay has been detained over a story he wrote that said Grace Mugabe donated used underwear to the ruling party ZANU-PF's supporters.
The reporter, Kenneth Nyangani, wrote an article saying that the country's First Lady donated used underwear to the ruling party's supporters. ZANU-PF Member of Parliament Esau Mupfumi distributed the underwear, and said that it had been donated by Grace Mugabe, the newspaper reported. Kenneth Nyangani was subsequently arrested by police in Mutare, the country's eastern city, and is most likely to face "criminal defamation" charges under the Criminal (Codification and Reform) Act. It is not clear whether the complainant was the MP or the First Lady, the newspaper reported.
Police in the eastern city of Mutare detained Mr Nyangani on Monday evening for "allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments" by President Robert Mugabe's wife, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in a statement. “The brief facts are that Kenneth was picked up last night around 10pm at his home in Dangamvura and I attended to him around 11:30pm at Mutare Central where he was subsequently detained. At the moment I am in the Crime office. The Member-in-Charge Crime Assistant Inspector Shariwa is referring the docket to Law & Order," the statement further read.
According to the newspaper article, the MP said that some of the clothing was not in good shape. ‘’I have briefs for you and I am told that most of your briefs are not in good shape, please come and collect your allocations today. We have night dresses, sandals and clothes, come and take, this is from your First Lady Grace Mugabe,’’ he said.
In Zimbabwe, second-hand clothing has flourished and has caused the suffocation of the local textile industry. This has been caused by a worsening economy which has resulted in tougher standards of living for ordinary citizens. Second-hand clothing is very cheap and hence people see it as an affordable alternative.
The freedom of expression in Zimbabwe especially for journalists who report for independent media houses has always been under threat as journalists are regularly arrested or even assaulted.