Zanu PF, a party known for not budging from positions regardless of the consequences, has joined hands with progressive democratic forces to condemn the continued arrests and harassment of journalists.
The party had increasingly been accused of being behind the abrasive abuse of journalists, but Zanu PF central committee member Godfrey Malaba refuted the allegations by civic society and shifted the blame squarely on the shoulders of the inclusive government.
On Tuesday, Malaba said:
“As a party, we also do not condone the harassment of journalists. We are in an inclusive government, so I do not see why people would say Zanu PF is harassing journalists. The co-minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone is not a deputy minister but an equal one so it is not Zanu PF that is harassing journalists, but the inclusive government.
“Every ministry that is headed by a Zanu PF person, the deputy is MDC so you cannot blame Zanu PF on things done by the inclusive government.”
The MDC-T, MDC-M and Zapu have already condemned brazen attacks and harassment of members of the Fourth Estate who come after the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The condemnations by the three bitterly rival political parties come against the backcloth of the recent arrests of The Standard editor Nevanji Madanhire and Bulawayo-based reporter Nqobani Ndlovu.
Madanhire and Ndlovu were arrested over a story that said war veterans were being incorporated into senior police positions ahead of possible polls slated for next year.
In a meeting to discuss the parties’ readiness for expected elections next year, the parties were unanimous in calling for a conducive working environment for journalists to carry out their duties.
“We need media reforms in the country. Presently journalists are being arrested for various charges that impede their line of work.
“There is need to open media space especially in broadcasting because the one that we have gives prominence to Zanu PF as evidenced by its jingles,” said Edwin Ndlovu, MDC-M provincial spokesperson.
“It is hard for journalists to operate if laws like Aippa and Posa are still in place.”
MDC-T provincial chairman Thamsanqa Ncube said the harassment of journalists was evident of the election tone being set by Zanu PF.
“We are worried about the harassment of journalists in the country right now. We shudder to think what would happen to journalists as the election dates draw nearer,” said Ncube.
“We know that Zanu PF controls TV and some state-owned newspapers that they are using to campaign on their behalf.”
Zapu information and publicity director Methuseli Moyo sang from the same song sheet saying:
“The party would like to raise concern on the ill-treatment of journalists in the country. As a party we do not condone the ill-treatment of journalists.”