Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says he fears for his life following a Zanu PF press conference during which he was named as attacking the integrity of the First Family by exposing its alleged corruption.
The press conference was held on 4 June 2020.
According to media reports, in a statement read by acting Zanu PF spokesperson, Patrick Chinamasa, the ruling party reportedly warned him against reporting on alleged corruption by the family of President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the allegations were sponsored and baseless.
He further warned individuals and publications to stop what he described as systematic attacks on the First Family.
“We are aware that these baseless attacks did not start today but need to stop forthwith,” Chinamasa reportedly said.
Following the warnings, Chin’ono tweeted: “My life is in danger after Zanu PF attacked me personally through their spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa. I am a trained journalist, if I have said something that is not true, legal remedies are there.”
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe urges any aggrieved parties, including political parties, to file complaints with the media self-regulatory body, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, for amicable resolution and appropriate professional remedies in the event they are not happy with the authenticity and accuracy of published stories or allegations.
Threats have the potential of instilling fear and media self-censorship which undermines the media’s watchdog role over the Executive, media freedom, and, ultimately citizens’ right to information as provided for by the Constitution.
We equally urge political parties to exercise caution and restraint when handling the media. Threats of this nature have the potential of exposing the journalist to harm as supporters of the party might take a cue from their leadership and take the law into their own hands.
We, therefore, call for the political formations in Zimbabwe to uphold the constitutional provisions of the country that protects the media and see to it that journalists are allowed to perform their duties in line with this year’s UNESCO’s global Word Press Freedom Day theme – reporting without fear or favour.