5 Oct 2017

Journalist arrested over report Grace Mugabe gave supporters used underwear

A journalist has been arrested for reporting that Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe allegedly gave used clothing including underwear to party supporters.

Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe addresses party supporters today

Kenneth Nyangani was detained on Monday after the story was published.

The first lady, whose political profile has risen in recent years, routinely donates clothing and food items to supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF at her rallies.

Poor economic conditions in the country mean many have turned to second-hand clothing, including underwear which is sometimes imported from Western countries. Nyangani reported that President Robert Mugabe’s wife arranged for women’s nightgowns and underwear to be given to supporters.

‘They wanted to charge him with criminal defamation, but I told them that law has been struck down by the Constitutional Court,’ his lawyer Passmore  Nyakureba said of his conversations with police.

‘They didn’t even seem aware of that fact. They are also not telling us whether the complainant is the first lady or the legislator.’

Amnesty International appealed for Nyangani’s release, describing his arrest as an attempt to harass and intimidate him and other journalists.

‘The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths,’ said Cousin Zilala, executive director of Amnesty’s Zimbabwe branch.

President Mugabe was in South Africa on Tuesday for a meeting with President Jacob Zuma. He was not accompanied by his wife, who received diplomatic immunity from South Africa after being accused of attacking a young woman in a Johannesburg hotel in August and inflicting head wounds by whipping her with an extension cord.

Grace Mugabe has denied any wrongdoing, saying the woman attacked her with a knife while drunk.

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