Pressure mounts on Zimbabwe to release New York Times freelancer, Jeffrey Moyo

Jeffrey Moyo in Harare’s Central Police Station on Thursday ahead of his transfer to Bulawayo. Picture: Doug Coltart

By Lee Rondganger

Durban - Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwean authorities to release prominent journalist Jeffrey Moyo, a freelancer for the New York Times, who spent the past five days in jail.

This after he allegedly misrepresenting the accreditation status of his two colleagues, South Africa based, Joao Silva and Christina Goldbaum.

While Silva and Goldbaum were deported back to South Africa, Moyo was arrested last Wednesday. He is expected to appear in a Bulawayo court on at 2.15pm Monday afternoon for a bail application, his lawyer, Doug Coltart told IOL.

He denies the charge against him.

The South African National Editor’s Forum, alongside the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) and the New York Times have added their voice to a growing chorus calling for Moyo’s release.

According to the CPJ, Moyo, who also freelances for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and Norway’s Bistandsaktuelt, was arrested on May 26 in the capital, Harare, and charged with violating Section 36 of the Immigration Act for alleged misrepresentations to immigration officials about the accreditation status of two journalists from the New York Times.

Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva–who arrived from South Africa on May 5, were deported on May 8 because they allegedly did not have proper accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

“Zimbabwean authorities must immediately release journalist Jeffrey Moyo, who should never have been detained, let alone charged,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.

“The fact that he was arrested, and his New York Times colleagues forced to leave the country, shows that Zimbabwe continues to violate the right to press freedom and the public’s right to know.”

New York Times spokesperson Nicole Taylor, in a statement emailed to CPJ, said, “We are deeply concerned by Jeffrey Moyo’s arrest and are assisting his lawyers to secure his timely release. Jeffrey is a widely respected journalist with many years of reporting experience in Zimbabwe and his detainment raises troubling questions about the state of press freedom in Zimbabwe.”

The South African National Editors’ Forum said: “SANEF supports an urgent call by the Committee to Protect Journalists for Zimbabwean authorities to free jailed New York Times freelance journalist Jeffrey Moyo, and condemns the deportation of his two colleagues, Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva. The deportation and arrests raise the alarm about ongoing media freedom violations in Zimbabwe...Sanef also notes with concern the statement by the Zim Human Rights NGO Forum which, in marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3, noted that there had been seven attacks on journalists by state security agents in Zimbabwe this year. In 2020, 52 cases of attacks on journalists were recorded”.

Moyo was expected to appear in court on Monday alongside Thabang Manhika, an official at the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) said the two NYT journalists who were deported were “carrying forged accreditation cards” which had been obtained on their behalf by Moyo in collusion with a ZMC official.


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