Zimbabwe arrests journalist over report Grace Mugabe gave used underwear to supporters

In this Sept. 1, file photo Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe addresses party supporters at a rally in Gweru, Zimbabwe. (AP)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Zimbabwe arrests journalist over report Grace Mugabe gave used underwear to supporters

HARARE: Zimbabwe police have arrested a journalist at a privately-owned daily over a story claiming that President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace had donated second-hand underwear to supporters, lawyers said Tuesday.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said that Kenneth Nyangani, a NewsDay journalist, was arrested on Monday night “for allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments by First Lady Grace Mugabe.”
Nyangani was being detained in the eastern city of Mutare and is likely to face “criminal defamation” charges, the organization said in a statement. He is yet to appear in court.
The NewsDay on Monday reported that a ruling Zanu-PF lawmaker, Esau Mupfumi had over the weekend handed out clothes saying they were donated by Grace Mugabe.
“I met the First Lady Grace Mugabe and I was given these clothes so that I can give you. I have briefs for you and I am told that most of your briefs are not in good shape, please come and collect your allocations today,” the NewsDay quoted Mupfumi as saying.
“We have night dresses, sandals and clothes, come and take, this is from your First Lady Grace Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis has forced many people to resort to buying second-hand clothes which are more affordable.
The used clothes that include undergarments are mostly imported from Mozambique after being shipped from Western nations.
Zimbabwe once banned the sale of second-hand clothes in 2015 but later lifted the ban.
The southern African country is facing money shortages and high unemployment blamed on long ruling President Robert Mugabe economic policies.
Amnesty International has called for Nyangani’s unconditional release, saying his arrest aimed at harassing and intimidating journalists.
“The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths,” it said in a statement.


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.