Masvingo freelance journalists Godfrey Mtimba and Tonderai Saharo were on 24 February 2021 reportedly barred by the police from covering the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme at Mushagashe Training Centre.
According to Mtimba, the police barred them from covering the event at the instigation of the sister-in-charge who was leading the medical team at the training centre, about 30km outside Zimbabwe’s southern town of Masvingo.
The sister-in-charge, who reportedly refused to identify herself, told the journalists that she had not received authorisation from her superiors to entertain or allow the presence of media practitioners.
MISA Zimbabwe position
The public has a right to receive information on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme to raise awareness on the exercise as well as the government’s efforts in curbing the spread of the pandemic thus ensuring transparency and accountability.
Declared an essential service in terms of the COVID-19 regulations, the media should therefore be able to conduct its constitutional duties to seek and disseminate information in the public interest without any hindrance.
MISA Zimbabwe, therefore, urges all stakeholders to positively contribute to the free flow of information, more so as it pertains to developments pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.