Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mutare journalist to appear in court

MUTARE – Sydney Saize, a journalist based in this eastern border city, will next month appear before the magistrate courts here facing charges of practicing journalism without accreditation from the government regulating body. Saize is alleged to have had worked as a journalist without being accredited by the Media and Information Commission which has since been renamed Zimbabwe Media Commission. Saize, 34, was arrested in January 2006 at the Aloe Park in the city after he was caught allegedly gathering news on behalf of Studio 7 a Washington DC based radio station. Several Zimbabwean journalists work for Studio 7, a radio station based in the United States Capital. The radio station broadcasts on short-wave and beams news on Zimbabwe on a daily basis. While a good number of Zimbabwean journalists are based in Washington DC working for Studio 7, the radio station has several correspondents operating within Zimbabwe. Saize was detained for three days at Mutare Central Police Station and released on summons. His trail date has now been set for 22 April 2008. According to the police, Saize violated Chapter 10.27 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), in that enjoyed the privilege of an accredited journalist by gathering news from Gomorefu Secondary School in Marange. Saize is alleged to have a covered a story in which two teachers at the school were assaulted by Zanu PF youths and war veterans. The teachers were accused of being supporters or sympathizers of the opposition MDC. Saize, a former Daily News journalist, is not the only journalist to be arrested and charged for violating sections of AIPPA. About 100 journalists have been arrested and arraigned before the courts. Several others have fled the country after being arrested under the draconian law. Among those who fled the country includes the founding editor of the popular Daily News Geoff Nyarota, Conrad Nyamutata, Basildon Peta, Sandra Nyaira and Lloyd Mudiwa. However, since AIPPA came into law the State has not successfully prosecuted a single journalist.

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