Info minister slams police brutality against Zimbabwean journalists
MISA Zimbabwe welcomes Minister of Media Information and Broadcasting Services, Christopher Mushohwe’s condemnation of the heavy handedness of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on journalists as they go about with their lawful duties.
According to a report by The NewsDay on 4 October 2017, Minister Mushohwe made the remarks in response to the assault of The Daily News reporters, Mugove Tafirenyika and Brighton Goko. The two were assaulted by the police while covering a demonstration in Harare on 29 September, 2017.
Minister Mushohwe’s remarks are a response to calls by MISA Zimbabwe for the intervention by relevant authorities in the face of increasing violations and assaults of journalists over the past year. Mushohwe is quoted saying;
“The law protects journalists who should be allowed to pursue their vocation unhindered and without fear or risk of bodily harm or injury.”
He noted that his Ministry was liaising with the police to ensure maximum safety of journalists on duty and to cultivate a healthy relationship between the two especially in riotous instances.
Over the past year, MISA Zimbabwe has facilitated the petitioning and meetings with the ZRP on these violations. On 16 September, 2016 journalists and civil society media organisations met with Police Chiefs in Harare to hand over a petition and to express their displeasure over their arrests, harasments and assaults in the face of increasing civil unrest.
On 28 July 2017, journalists in Harare marched to Harare’s Central police station protesting the continued assaults by the police. The protest, followed the assault of three Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) journalists who were covering skirmishes between the police and members of the public in Harare’s city centre. The journalists together with MISA Zimbabwe Legal Officer, Farai Nhende met with a police representative, Inspector Ziburubudu who advised that they request a meeting with the Commanding Officer for Harare District.
Movement by police vs reality
Engagement between MISA Zimbabwe and the police is ongoing, and there have been indications of some movement within the police force. Assistant Senior Commissioner, Charity Charamba in July reported that there were on going training initiatives intended to normalise working relations between the police and the media. However the continued trend of violations remains of great concern, and MISA Zimbabwe views the proclamation by the Ministry in this regard as a step forward in improving the current status.
In 2016, MISA Zimbabwe recorded fifteen incidents between journalists and the police force, while nine have been recorded since the beginning of this year.
About MISA Zimbabwe
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.