ZANU PF supporters and councillors on 4 September 2018 threatened journalists against taking pictures of protests that broke out during the Chitungwiza municipality mayoral elections.
According to reports from Open Parly Zimbabwe’s Philemon Jambaya, trouble started when one of the four ZANU PF councillors for Chitungwiza moved a motion seeking postponement of Chitungwiza’s mayoral elections.
During the motion, the ZANU PF councillor also sought the expulsion of journalists from council chambers where the election was scheduled to take place. The MDC Alliance councillors who make up the majority voted against the motion.
However, ZANU PF supporters who were in the council chambers protested and the ZANU PF councillors boycotted the proceedings by walking out of council chambers. When journalists started taking pictures and filming the protests, a ZANU PF councillor threatened the reporters against doing so.
ZANU PF supporters reportedly then echoed similar threats against the journalists as they shoved them in an attempt to remove them from council chambers. According to Jambaya, a pregnant journalist was also shoved and pushed during the ensuing commotion.
The censorship, banning, or expulsion of journalists from public events is seriously condemned and is against the letter and spirit of media freedoms as espoused in Zimbabwe’s constitution.
MISA Zimbabwe reiterates that journalism is not a crime. Furthermore, citizens have a right to access information on government processes such as the election of mayors and other public officers.