MEDIA players yesterday said the arrest and detention of journalists by Zimbabwean authorities ahead of today’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations showed that the country was still far away from attaining media freedom.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (Zinef)-organised function to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Harare, Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) director Andy Moyse said the media should continue promoting democracy in the country.
“The recent spate of arrests, detention and prosecution of journalists and media institutions tells us that on this ‘auspicious’ day, we still have a long way to go,” he added.
“Now, as the political opposition disintegrates, it is more important than ever that the media remind those in authority – whoever they are – that we live in a democracy and that the people’s opinion – even and especially dissenting opinion – matters and the people should be free to express them.”
US Embassy spokesperson, Karen Kelley deplored the recent arrest of NewsDay and Daily News journalists.
“I would note that the recent arrest and charges against journalists at the Daily News as well as NewsDay editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporter Moses Matenga are not in keeping with the efforts to maintain an environment in which journalism in Zimbabwe can flourish.”
In a statement, the European Union through the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said: “The EU calls upon all governments to abide by international norms and to put an end to the intimidation, harassment, censorship and arbitrary detention of journalists and to impunity.”
Madanhire and Matenga were detained by police for six hours week following publication last week of the story of a three-year-old Harare boy, Neil Tanatswa Mutyora, who was fatally run over by a speeding commuter omnibus during a police chase.
According to the charge preferred against the journalists, the story, titled Chihuri you are responsible, was meant to “incite public disorder or public violence or to endanger public safety”.
Kelley, however, said the US was encouraged by recent developments of engagements and outreach processes by the Independent Media Panel of Inquiry.
She added that the US was willing and ready to assist Zimbabwe in this critical, transformative moment in history through various cultural and media programmes as well as to share “what we consider best practices.”