A Zimbabwean journalist has been detained for writing a news story deemed insulting to the country’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, a legal aid group said on Tuesday.
Kenneth Nyangani of the privately-owned Newsday newspaper was detained late Monday, a police spokeswoman, Charity Charamba, confirmed, adding that a full statement would later be issued on the case.
Nyangani had written an article alleging that the first lady — a notorious shopper with a penchant for designer goods — had made a charitable donation of clothes, including used undergarments, to supporters of her husband’s Zanu-PF party.
“We understand police officers are planning on charging him with criminal defamation,” said Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesman for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the group representing the journalist.
Zimbabwe ranked 128 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
The group called the media situation in the southern African country “oppressive” and noted that both local and foreign journalists regularly face arrest.
Nonagenarian President Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for three decades and intends to contest elections again next year.
Grace has been widely tipped as a possible successor to her 93-year-old husband.
Mugabe has been accused of vote rigging, multiple human rights violations, and self-enrichment in a country where 63 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.