03 March 2017 | Business Day
An editor and a journalist are arrested for ‘insulting the office of the president’ after a report headlined ‘Mugabe in fresh health scare’
Harare — Two Zimbabwean journalists were arrested on Friday over a newspaper report that described President Robert Mugabe as “in bad shape” when he flew to Singapore for what officials called a scheduled medical check-up.
The editor of independent newspaper NewsDay Wisdom Mudzungairi and journalist Richard Chidza were released ahead of a court appearance on Saturday.
The front-page story said that Mugabe, 93, had “sneaked out of the country” this week, and quoted an unnamed source saying “it’s a tricky health situation”. The report, headlined “Mugabe in fresh health scare”, said that first lady Grace Mugabe had flown to Dubai to organise the charter flight.
“They have been arrested and charged with undermining and insulting the office of the president,” said their lawyer Obey Shava before their release, and said their arrest was “in relation to the paper’s lead story”.
Mugabe’s trip to Singapore, shortly after his lavish 93rd birthday party, was announced by his press spokesman on Wednesday. The president is expected to return early next week. Mugabe’s health has been the subject of increased speculation in recent years, and he regularly flies to Singapore for medical attention.
Despite his advanced age, last year Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party endorsed him as its candidate for the 2018 general elections. In recent speeches, he has paused for lengthy periods and mumbled at times.