Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a journalist after he reported that a ruling Zanu-PF MP distributed used underwear to supporters on behalf of First Lady Grace Mugabe, the journalist’s lawyer said on Tuesday.
NewsDay reporter Kenneth Nyangani was arrested on Monday night in the eastern city of Mutare, his lawyer said.
“He is in custody at Mutare Central Police Station,” lawyer Passmore Nyakureba told News24 via phone.
He said his client was facing a charge of criminal defamation, although it wasn’t clear whether the complainant was the MP or the First Lady. He said the reporter hadn’t yet been given the opportunity to respond to the charge.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed in a statement that Nyangai was arrested “for allegedly writing a story published in Monday’s edition of NewsDay claiming that First Lady Grace Mugabe donated some used undergarments to some Zanu-PF supporters in Manicaland province”.
Zimbabwe banned the importation of second hand clothes and shoes in 2015 to help protect local textile and shoe companies, but the ban was later relaxed.
There have been numerous reports in recent months that second hand clothes and shoes seized by revenue officials at borders, or from street vendors by municipal police, have been redistributed to ruling party supporters at rallies.