Christopher Mushohwe, the Information minister, on Tuesday warned journalists against “malicious” coverage of President Robert Mugabe and his family as public attention increasingly turns on the 92 year old leader whose health is reportedly failing due to advanced age.
He was addressing journalists in Harare.
Mushohwe did not, however, explain what he meant by malicious coverage of the Mugabe family, but there are fears that his warning could signal a crackdown on the media ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Zimbabwean citizens have been arrested and taken to court on charges of insulting the president but legal experts insist that the law being used, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, undermines freedom of expression.
During the Tuesday media briefing, Mushohwe issued a threat against social media activists, particularly those residing outside the country, accusing them of terrorism.
Police recently indicated that they were keen to question three Zimbabwe exiles based in South Africa and Australia over alleged use of social media platforms to “undermine the authority” of the government.
“Government has made it abundantly clear it is closely watching the activities of these subversive elements, who in the majority of cases are fronted by political parties and movements operating both inside and outside the country,” said Mushohwe.
“Let those countries that have always pretended to fight terrorism now explain to us how they are aiding and abetting these terrorists squatting in cyberspace with their self-proclaimed public stances,” Mushohwe said.
Civil activists in July widely used social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook to post videos and messages in anti-government protests that seemingly rattled President Robert Mugabe and his administration.