Zimbabwe police have arrested a journalist at a privately-owned daily over a story claiming that President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace had donated second-hand underwear to supporters, lawyers said Tuesday.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said that Kenneth Nyangani, a NewsDay journalist, was arrested on Monday night “for allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments by First Lady Grace Mugabe”.
Nyangani was being detained in the eastern city of Mutare and is likely to face “criminal defamation” charges, the organisation said in a statement. He is yet to appear in court.
The NewsDay on Monday reported that a ruling Zanu-PF lawmaker, Esau Mupfumi had over the weekend handed out clothes saying they were donated by Grace Mugabe.
“I met the First Lady Grace Mugabe and I was given these clothes so that I can give you. 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,” the NewsDay quoted Mupfumi as saying.
“We have night dresses, sandals and clothes, come and take, this is from your First Lady Grace Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis has forced many people to resort to buying second-hand clothes which are more affordable.
The used clothes that include undergarments are mostly imported from Mozambique after being shipped from Western nations.
Zimbabwe once banned the sale of second-hand clothes in 2015 but later lifted the ban.
The southern African country is facing money shortages and high unemployment blamed on long ruling President Robert Mugabe economic policies.
Amnesty International has called for Nyangani’s unconditional release, saying his arrest aimed at harassing and intimidating journalists.
“The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths,” it said in a statement.