Local and foreign media were this afternoon, temporarily barred access to an MDC Alliance press conference called for by the party leader Nelson Chamisa at the Bronte Hotel, Harare in the afternoon.
The police, in full riot gear, formed a human chain and sealed off the entrance to the hotel. The media was only granted access after the intervention of Chamisa’s lawyers. It is reported that the police mistook the press conference, where Chamisa is expected to discuss the election outcome, for a political rally.
The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) is currently in effect following riots and deployment of the army on Wednesday afternoon. POSA places restrictions on the holding of public gatherings including political rallies. Acting Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting services, Simon K. Moyo also arrived on the scene to assure journalists that there was no ban on press conferences.
MISA Zimbabwe reminds the government of Zimbabwe that the right to access information, free expression, and media freedom remain fundamental rights even in times of perceived public unrest as provided for under sections 61 and 62 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.
Attempts to undermine or prohibition of the enjoyment of such rights cast the country in bad light locally and internationally. It is the obligation of the government through its various state institutions to uphold and defend the constitution during times of peace or unrest.
The justification by the police on the aforesaid media violations is suspicious since the media conference was publicised as such ahead of time.
MISA Zimbabwe urges members of the media community and the public to report any media violations on the MISA Hotline is 0784 437 338. MISA Zimbabwe staff is also on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty.