MISA Zimbabwe is concerned with the increase in cases involving attempts by government officials within the southern African region to curb legitimate media investigations.
This follows the recent detention and deportation from Malawi of Ntombizodwa Patience Makhoba, a City Press journalist.
On Monday 18 February 2019, Makhoba travelled from South Africa to Malawi to investigate a story involving a Malawian entrepreneur based in South Africa.
According to media reports from Malawi, police confiscated Makhobana’s mobile phone and detained her overnight at a Blantyre police station while awaiting the next available flight from Malawi to South Africa. Malawian immigration officials said Makhoba did not have the necessary documentation to carry out investigations in Malawi.
This is not the first time that a southern African country has either detained or deported a foreign journalist from working in a given country.
In November 2018, Tanzania detained the Committee for the Protection of Journalists’ Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo, saying they did not have visas or permits to be in the country.
In January 2019, Zimbabwean authorities barred two E-TV journalists Aldrin Sampear and Linge Ndabambi from entering Zimbabwe. The two journalists were in Zimbabwe to investigate and report on protests that were happening in the country at that time.
In an unrelated case, Mozambican authorities on Monday 18 February, arrested and detained Germano Daniel Adriano, a journalist with Macomia Radio and Television broadcasting services. Circumstances of Adriano’s arrest are still unclear. Adriano’s was arrested and is detained in the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
Cabo Delgado is the same province where another reporter, Amade Abubakar has been in detention for the past 49 days since his arrest by military actors in early January 2019.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe is concerned with the increase in cases involving attempts by government officials within the southern African region to disrupt legitimate media investigations. As highlighted above, these restrictions take the form of detentions or deportations of foreign journalists as well as arbitrary arrests of local journalists.
MISA Zimbabwe urges governments in the region to uphold the access to information and media freedom provisions that are emphasised in the Southern African Community Development’s (SADC) Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport. Article 19 (1) of the Protocol calls on SADC countries to cooperate in improving the free flow of information within the region.