State media must desist from fuelling persecution of CSOs

On December 1, 2020, The Herald carried a story headlined "NGOs in MDC-A funding scandal" which insinuated, without solid facts, that civic society organisations from Masvingo had funded an MDC-Alliance Youth Assembly congress held on November 29, 2020.

 
The story quoted anonymous sources who claimed that the Community Tolerance, Reconciliation and Development Trust (COTRAD) and the Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) had funded the MDC-A youth congress although there were no facts to substantiate the allegations.
 
As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we are deeply concerned that this is a desperate attempt by the State to criminalise civic society work and justify clampdowns.
 
We are deeply disturbed by the fact that the State media continues to be complicit in the clampdown on civic society organisations and ultimately working against efforts to promote democracy in Zimbabwe.
 
The civic and political space in Zimbabwe continues to shrink with the State media being an accomplice in thwarting citizens’ fundamental rights and in some cases, the State media has worked tirelessly to sweep issues of abduction, torture, rape and murder of civic society and opposition activists under the carpet.
 
This has been worsened by the fact that some State media journalists have turned into ruling party activists and openly declaring their support for Zanu PF against the ethics of journalism.
 
The stance by the State media comes at a time the government is working on the Patriotic Bill and amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act in an apparent attempt to stifle the work of civic society organisations in Zimbabwe.
 
We implore the State media to desist from acting as an appendage of the ruling party and fuelling human rights violations.

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