Harare- A Kenyan journalist has been detained in Zimbabwe for entering the country to cover the July 31 polls without requisite accreditation as regional and international media houses make a beeline for Harare for what analysts deem watershed elections.
As incumbent President Robert Mugabe declared a public holiday next Wednesday to enable Zimbabwe’s more than six million registered voters to cast their ballots, Charles Omondi was arrested before being detained at the Harare International Airport by immigration on Thursday.
Immigration officials said the Kenyan newsman did not have adequate accreditation papers as required by Zimbabwe Electoral laws to cover the elections that effectively bring closure to the acrimonious coalition government of Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube of the smaller faction of the MDC.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is responsible for the accreditation of all journalists intending to cover the polls next Wednesday.
Human rights lawyers said on Thursday they were battling to secure Omondi’s release who works for the Nairobi-based The Nation Newspapers Media Group.
“We sent a lawyer, Wellington Pasipanodya from our media lawyers’ network but he was denied to see him,” said Jacqueline Chikakano, a legal officer with the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter.
“He was told that he is not on Zimbabwe soil since he is yet to be legally allowed into the country. I called an immigration official they said there is nothing that can be done as he will be deported,” she said.
There was no immediate comment from Immigration but sources said Omondi was likely to be deported this afternoon.
- CAJ News