* Media focus of new crackdown
* ZANU-PF blamed for stalling media reforms
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Dec 6 Zimbabwe police detained a
leading media rights activist on Tuesday in what analysts said
was a new crackdown on critics of President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party before possible general elections next year.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) - a media
lobby group - said its director Andy Moyse was arrested at his
Harare office on charges of distributing subversive material, a
day after the detention of two other MMPZ staffers in southern
Zimbabwe under the country's tough security laws.
The police searched the MMPZ offices for "material which
comprises of DVDs containing Gukurahundi information", an MMPZ
statement said, referring to a 1980s military crackdown in
Zimbabwe's southern Matabeleleland and Midlands provinces when
human rights groups say some 20,000 people were killed.
"In terms of the search warrant, the police purport that
they have reasonable grounds to believe that MMPZ officers may
have acted in breach (of the law) ... that is, 'publishing or
communicating false statements prejudicial to the state'."
The group said police seized DVDs calling on the media to
contribute to peaceful elections through fair, accurate and
balanced coverage of campaigns by political parties.
Zimbabwean police and the information ministry were not
immediately available for comment.
A unity government formed by Mugabe and rival Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009 opened up licences for private
newspapers but critics say Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is stalling
further reforms and blocking private broadcasters.
Mugabe, 87, and in power since independence from Britain in
1980, says he wants to call elections next year to end the unity
government that he was forced into after disputed polls in 2008.
Critics say ZANU-PF hardliners are leading a new crackdown
on the party's opponents, including targeting journalists in the
In the last three weeks, two journalists and two editors
from some of the country's major private newspaper groups have
been arrested for criminal defamation of senior ZANU-PF
officials and associates.
(Reporting by Cris Chinaka; editing by Elizabeth Piper)