Police gate crush journos meetings

two_unidentified_cidBULAWAYO -- Police from the Law and Order section have intensified their monitoring of the media in the country with several officers from the department attending press clubs and media workshops disguised as reporters from the police Outpost magazine. (Pictured: Two unident

In one such case when police have posed as reporters from the used the Outpost as an excuse to gate crush reporters meetings and functions, two unidentified officers last week forced their way into a meeting of journalists here, claiming they were from the law enforcement agencys in-house magazine.

This was despite the fact that the journalists had not invited anyone fro Outpost to their meeting.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has expressed dismay at the polices rather bizarre tactics.

ZUJ secretary general Foster Dongozi said the way the police is now interfering with the activities of the press is shocking and a clear indication of desperation that is meant to prevent journalists from freely carrying out their duties.

We are aware that police are now attending journalists activities. This intrusion only reflects a deep rooted paranoia from the government of the country who would like to silence the media, its a further clampdown on the media, said Dongozi.

Zimbabwe remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for the media with journalists liable to arrest and imprisonment for violating a raft of state security, secrecy and criminal defamation laws.

A string of half-hearted reforms by the Harare unity government including issuing licences to more private newspapers had helped ease the media environment and encouraged hope that the administration could go all the way to scrap tough security and press laws that restrict journalists from freely carrying out their work.

But hardliner elements in President Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF) party and the security forces have in recent weeks moved to clamp down on the media and whittle down the little democratic space that had opened up during the nearly two years of unity government.

Four journalists including the editor of The Standard, Nevanji Madanhire and his report Nqobani Nldovu have been arrested in the past two months while the police have a warrant of arrest out for Wilf Mbanga, who is based in Britain from where he publishes The Zimbabwean newspaper.

The police want to arrest Mbanga in connection with a story that strangely — appeared in another publication that is neither owned nor produced by him.

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