British journalist Tom Bowker was expelled from Mozambique today
British journalist Tom Bowker, who edits the Zitamar portal, was this Tuesday expelled from Mozambique, following an order issued by the interior minister, after Zitamar News was deemed “non-existent” by Mozambican authorities, he announced.
Tom Bowker, his wife and their two children left Maputo for London, after being taken to Maputo International Airport by two agents from the National Migration Service (SENAMI).
” I am, yes, complying with the expulsion order and I cannot return [to Mozambique] before 10 years,” Bowker told reporters at the entrance of Maputo International Airport.
The journalist said that he will try, through legal means, to change the decision to expel him from Mozambique.
Tom Bowker pointed out that the decision does not extend to his family , who are allowed to remain in the country and are returning to London only for reasons of convenience.
Bowker’s first expulsion order was made orally at a meeting to which he was summoned at SENAMI’s Maputo office at the end of last month, but the official decision followed. It came through an order signed by Interior Minister Amade Miquidade, declared the journalist.
The Zitamar editor added that the interior minister used the arguments presented in a “clarification note” by the Information Office (GABINFO), a Mozambican state entity that regulates the media in the country.
In the note, GABINFO described “irregularities” that led it to request Bowker for “the return of the accreditation card as a foreign journalist,” a decision “with the due legal consequences”.
GABINFO considered that, from the point of view of documentary records, the Zitamar portal “is non-existent, both in England and in Mozambique”, adding that the link between the latter and the firm with the same name on British soil remains to be proved.
“Zitamar News is an online publication based in Maputo, specialising in information services about Mozambique, whose contents are managed and broadcast by Thomas Andrew Bowker, from Maputo”, but without “elements of legality” that frame it either ” as a national media outlet “or as” an international news agency, “GABINFO concluded.
On January 29, the Mozambique branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) , an organisation that defends press freedom, contested the expulsion of Tom Bowker from Mozambique, repudiating the authorities’ decision.
“Of particular concern is the fact that the decision was taken arbitrarily, without following the legal procedures”, having been made known to the target “orally, without any official written document”, MISA said in a statement.
MiISA considered that “regardless of the merits of the case, there was a duty for government authorities to prove the accusatory matter in their own forum, just as the right should be reserved for the defendant”.
The non-governmental organisation for the defense of press freedom added that the process was conducted “without transparency and professionalism”, giving the impression that “the State institutions are being used to move political expedients of manifest illegality”.
The subscription portal Zitamar News, written in English, follows Mozambican news, especially in the economic area, and in the last year has gained notoriety for covering the armed insurgency in Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.