NewsDay Masvingo correspondent Tatenda Chitagu was on Sunday harassed by Zanu PF youths at the instigation of a senior party member.
Chitagu was forced out of a Zanu PF inter-district meeting that was held at Masvingo polytechnic.
The meeting was addressed by the party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who accused the private media of exaggerating issues, especially those to do with the country’s security.
Senior party members in attendance included political commissar and Media and Information minister Webster Shamu, Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge, Masvingo provincial chairman, Lovemore Matuke and Josiah Hungwe among other party leaders.
Narrating his ordeal Chitagu said the senior party member instructed youths at the meeting to throw him out of the meeting.
“I saw him give instruction to the youths,” said Chitagu. “A few moments later I was asked to leave Masvingo polytechnic without explanation.
“On my way to town, I was then approached by two men who took away my notebooks. At the moment I am so disturbed with what happened.”
During his address Moyo told party supporters that Zanu PF would not allow the private media to distort facts about the country’s security.
“Our doors are open, come to us and we’ll talk and verify,” said Moyo.
Zimbabwean journalists a forthright ago petitioned Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to demand an end to the continued harassment of reporters and call for implementation of media reforms he agreed on with President Robert Mugabe two years ago.
Noting the continued intimidation and harassment of journalists, the petitioners said the government should take all necessary steps to ensure the “cessation of all harassment, intimidation, illegal detention and criminalisation of the work of journalists, media practitioners and media houses”.
Standard reporter Nqobani Ndlovu was arrested on November 17 for writing a story claiming that police authorities were hiring pro-President Mugabe war veterans and recalling retired officers ahead of elections next year.
The paper’s editor Nevanji Madanhire was also arrested and charged under Section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which relates to publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the state.
Analysts have said the intimidation of journalists from the private media is a ploy to muzzle press freedom ahead of elections tentatively expected mid-next year.