ZIMBABWEAN High Commis-sioner to Botswana Phelekezela Mphoko allegedly assaulted a reporter who claimed Nathan Shamuyarira had told a rally in Bulawayo that Botswana would be used by the United
States as a launchpad to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
Reports from Botswana say Hloniphani Chengeta, a journalist for Botswana’s Sunday Tribune, was assaulted by Mphoko last Wednesday at the newspaper’s office in full view of the paper’s editor, Masego Butale, and other staff.
Regional media organisation Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) on Wednesday confirmed the allegations in a statement and said the incident was witnessed personally by Butale and eight reporters.
Chengeta reported the assault to Gaborone police who have already sent their findings to Botswana’s police commissioner who will forward it to the foreign ministry since Mphoko has diplomatic immunity and cannot be prosecuted.
Writing in the Sunday Tribune, Chengeta quoted Zanu PF secretary for Publicity Nathan Shamuyarira as saying he had reliable information that Botswana was going to be used as a launchpad for regime change in Zimbabwe.
Mphoko accused Chengeta of lying and of being a Movement for Democratic Change supporter and United States agent.
“Mphoko then jumped on Chengeta, pulled him up by the scruff of his neck, pinned him to the wall and pressed hard against Chengeta’s throat in full view of his workmates,” Misa said.
The Zimbabwe High Commission in Botswana has denied the allegations.