Zimbabwe president threatens 20 years jail term over fake news

 

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced that the author of the fake news which reported that the outbreak had been extended is liable to a jail term of up to 20 years.

Mnangagwa, told state broadcaster ZBC from his farmhouse, that the news reportage has been denied by his Government and should be treated as fake. He further threatened that the news peddler should expect a lengthy jail term.

“That is absolute nonsense, I have never made such a statement,” Mnangagwa said.

“If we catch this person it must be exemplary and they must go in for at least at level 14, which is 20 years imprisonment. That, I think we need to demonstrate that we don’t want false news to be circulated.”

Did Mnangagwa take things too far?

The southern African nation last month published lockdown regulations, which included jail terms of up to 20 years for people who spread falsehoods regarding the outbreak.

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National police spokesman Paul Nyathi said more than 5,000 people had been arrested for venturing outside their homes without permission.

Mnangagwa said his cabinet would meet this week to decide whether to end, adjust or extend the 21-day lockdown.

The authorities have said three people have died and 17 people have been infected in the country of 15 million people. Just over 600 people had been tested by Monday night.

In an editorial on Monday, the state-owned Herald newspaper criticised the police for harassing journalists doing their work during the lockdown, including forcing some to delete pictures and videos that captured abuses by security forces.

Police spokesman Nyathi said police had not received any official complaints of abuse from residents.

Mangwana said the moves by the Harare government were a bid to “protect” its people.

"We need to bring responsibility in the use of social media, if not, then people should not complain when regulation does it for them."