POLICE spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said the police would not hesitate to arrest journalists who abused their privilege and peddled falsehoods in the name of Press freedom.
Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi Senior Reporter
Responding to allegations raised at a workshop in Harare on the state of journalism in the country — that police had criminalised the profession — Mandipaka said although the law guaranteed freedom of expression, such a liberty was not absolute.
“Freedom of expression does not translate into immunity from arrest. We have a problem when a journalist abuses his privilege. They (journalists) like to quote
Section 20 of the Constitution, but they must appreciate that it goes further to guard certain liberties, so that they don’t infringe on the rights of others,” he said.
Catholic Church priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, who has undertaken extensive work in peace building, described engaging in hate speech as primitive.
“Hate speech is primitive. And this is 2012. Hate speech is not acceptable. That person has to be brought to book and made accountable for that hate speech,” he said.
He said there was need to deliberately promote peace and the media was a key pillar in guarding it, adding that it was regrettable attention had been given to stories that stirred conflict rather than promoting peace.
Alpha Media Holdings chief executive officer Raphael Khumalo said while journalists should not be used by politicians, selective application of the law in dealing with journalists had become worrisome.
“As journalists, our plea is on the selective application of the law. Why is it that only journalists in the independent media are the ones who transgress the law? We are all Zimbabweans. We must not act as if there is a Zimbabwe for another party,” he said.
However, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba refuted the allegations, insisting police were impartial.
“The police enforce the law. We have cases where even police officers who committed murder are locked up in Chikurubi,” she said.
Charamba went on to say: “At most times, newspapers are awash with headings on violence and sometimes it’s really exaggerated.”