Independent journalists harassed

journalists_zimbabweMUTARE - Some members from the notorious Central Intelligence Office and some Zanu (PF) supporters have started harassing freelance journalists and other reporters from the private media as electioneering begins in Manicaland. (Pictured: IFJ has called on all political parti

Freelance journalists in Mutare last week told The Zimbabwean that they were being targeted and were being accused of writing bad things about Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF).

Emmanuel Mlambo, a freelance journalist, said: I was man handled by some overzealous Zanu (PF) supporters who accused me of writing negative articles about Zanu (PF) and Mugabe. I was not even given the chance to respond as they attacked me with fists.

Another freelance journalist who declined to be named said: I was drinking beer at a bottle store and some guys came and took me away to secluded place purporting to be news sources. But, suddenly they took my cell phone and searched me and also took my tape recorder.

They said they wanted to retrieve information as they were secret agents. They scrolled down my phone asking me all the names and contacts of all the people in my phone and what was my relationship with them.

They asked me why I was writing negative articles about President Mugabe and Zanu (PF). They told me that Mugabe was the life President of Zimbabwe and he should have positive coverage. They warned me with death if I continued writing bad things about Mugabe.

Another freelance journalist, Sydney Saize, was severely beaten up and injured while attending a Zanu (PF) fundraising function last week. He lost his money amounting to US$30, his press card, a mobile phone and his reporting equipment during the process and is currently receiving medical treatment. Saize made a police report and the Manicaland police spokesperson, Brain Makomeke, confirmed the report.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) have condemned the increasing threats against journalists in Zimbabwe.

“As we approach emotive events such as the anticipated referendum and elections, we call on all political parties and organised groups to allow journalists to do their work professionally without hindrance” said Foster Dongozi, ZUJ General Secretary and SAJA President.

Regarding the next electoral deadlines, IFJ has called on all political parties to pay attention to the safety of journalists and to respect press freedom for the consolidation of the democratic process in Zimbabwe.

“We would also urge authorities at police headquarters to conduct awareness campaigns within the force on the operations of the media” added Dongozi.

Post published in: Politics

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