The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) has condemned threats against Information for Development Trust (IDT) and The Standard newspaper recently made by the Chinese embassy in Harare.
Last week, the embassy published an angry two-page letter in The Herald, accusing IDT and The Standard of peddling falsehoods against it and Chinese investors in Zimbabwe.
The weekly publication has been publishing investigative stories focusing on foreign investments accountability in Zimbabwe, with the majority of them relating to Chinese companies.
The embassy accused IDT and The Standard of fabricating falsehoods, even though it or the Chinese companies have not been able to refute the findings of the stories.
In its statement, the embassy threatened that it “will take strong counter-measures in response to safeguard China’s national image (sic).”
This did not go down well with MAZ, an umbrella body representing various media civil society organisations like the MISA-Zimbabwe, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF), the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and Media Monitors.
Wrote MAZ in response: “In what amounts to a direct attack on media freedom, the Chinese embassy issued these threats on the back of a series of stories critical of the operations of some Chinese companies operating in Zimbabwe published in The Standard in partnership with IDT.”
“It is unacceptable to charge against the media with unspecified actions,” added MAZ.
The alliance advised the Chinese embassy to use media institutions such as VMCZ, a voluntary complaints adjudication outfit, and the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) when aggrieved.