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War veterans threaten "NewsDay" newspaper

(MISA/IFEX) - 8 March 2012 - Leaders of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) in Harare on 7 March 2012 threatened to shut down the privately-owned newspaper NewsDay unless the daily discloses the sources of a story alleging the former liberation war fighters had attempted to dig up the remains of Cecil John Rhodes from Matobo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

ZNLWVA chairman, Charles Mpofu, reportedly threatened to close the newspaper in five days if their demands were not met. Rhodes, a former colonial leader, was buried on World's View, Malindidzimu Hill, in the Matopo National Park in 1902.

Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Webster Shamu said he would only comment after hearing the war veterans's side of the story. He said he would continue trying to get in touch with the concerned parties.

“I am the Minister of Information and have the obligation to protect the interests of the media in the country, but I also have no right to comment about what is said about someone without me getting what that person has to say for themselves,” he said.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa is concerned about the threats issued to a newspaper like NewsDay, which is operating within the confines of the law. We remain hopeful that minister Shamu will act on his promise to seek out the war veterans' side of the story and – as he says – duly “protect the interests of the media” in Zimbabwe.

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