Police in riot gear called off the road show, four hours after its commencement, claiming that there was not enough space to enable the holding of the activity. ZACRAS chairman Gift Mambipiri said his organisation is convinced that the police’s action was meant to derail the community radio from its mandate of serving the community of Bulawayo, through promoting access to information and participation in governance issues.
It is disturbing that in a bid to advance certain political interests, certain provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) are wantonly used to deprive citizens their rights. Contrary to the police assertion, there was evidence of expansive space to accommodate more community members to participate in the road show. Radio Dialogue has utilised the same space for the past five years, and obtains clearances from the Bulawayo City Council to hold its annual ZITF road shows,” said Mambipiri.
The ZACRAS chairman said it is worrying and ironic that, the systematic onslaught on the initiative’s activities comes after recent comments by the Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo province, Cain Mathema during the Zanu (PF)annual conference held in Bulawayo last year.
While addressing the delegates at the conference, Mathema who is also the party’s deputy secretary for information and publicity labelled Radio Dialogue and a number of non-governmental organisations as seeking to reverse the gains of independence by preaching regime change.
In March this year, the Bulawayo Central Police District went also declined Radio Dialogue a clearance to hold a free-the airwaves procession. The procession was part of proceedings for a community radio conference which was held by the community radio, in partnership with ZACRAS and Bulawayo Agenda.
“It is distressing that the latest disturbance of Radio Dialogue’s road show comes a few days before the universal commemoration of the annual World Press Freedom. The Radio Dialogue incident stands testimony to the deplorable state of Zimbabwe’s media operational environment, which deprives the media and citizens, their fundamental freedoms” he said.
Zimbabwe today (Thursday) joins the rest of the world in celebrating the World Press Freedom Day.
Mambipiri reiterated the need for the new Zimbabwe Constitution to explicitly guarantee and protect citizen’s right to freedom of association, assembly, expression and access to information.
The aborted road show was organised in conjunction with churches and civil society in Bulawayo, in a bid to promote peace building amongst community members.Post published in: News