Journalists barred from Zanu PF congress

zanu_pf_congressJournalists Faith Zaba and Wongai Zhangazha who are employed by the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent were on 10 December 2009 barred from covering the ongoing Zanu PF congress which opened in Harare on 9 December 2009.

Constantine Chimakure, news editor with the weekly newspaper, confirmed to MISA-Zimbabwe that Zaba and Zhangazha were barred from covering the official opening of the congress by security details at the Harare International Conference Centre. Chimakure said the two had simply been told that they were not welcome at the venue of the congress.

He said they had tried in vain to contact Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Ephraim Masawi for further details on the matter but that his mobile phone was not being answered.

MISA-Zimbabwe Position

MISA-Zimbabwe strongly condemns the above incidence and expresses its great concern over the continued suppression of media freedom and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. Ironically this occurred on the day when Zimbabwe together with the rest of the world was commemorating International Human Rights Day held under the theme, Embrace diversity, End discrimination. This is a serious contradiction in terms as it deprives the independent media of its lawful and professional role of freely accessing and disseminating information in the public interest.

Discrimination against the privately owned media only serves to entrench media polarisation and clearly contravenes the provisions of Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations resulting in the birth of the inclusive government. Under the agreement the three political parties, among other issues, committed themselves to freeing the media space and secure media diversity.

Regrettably, the Zimbabwean media space remains restricted with the independent media being vilified and discriminated against despite global calls for embracement of diversity and an end to all forms of discrimination.

As the constitution making process gets underway, MISA-Zimbabwe reiterates its demands for a constitutional provision that explicitly guarantees media freedom as critical to the citizens fundamental right to access information from a diverse, independent and pluralistic media.

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