An MDC Alliance councillor and his party’s supporters on 5 September 2018 threatened Tatenda Chitagu, a NewsDay journalist as he attempted to film protests that broke out during Masvingo’s mayoral elections.
Protests broke out during mayoral elections that saw a ZANU PF councillor being elected deputy mayor. As Chitagu began filming the protests on his cellphone, MDC Alliance councillor Godfrey Kuraone snatched the phone and warned Chitagu against recording the proceedings.
Chitagu recovered his cellphone from Kuraone following the intervention of other journalists who were at the event. MDC Alliance supporters continued to verbally harass Chitagu forcing him to leave council chambers.
This is the second incident this week in which journalists were censored from covering protests linked to mayoral elections. Protests and subsequent censorship of journalists also marred Chitungwiza’s mayoral elections.
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.