HomeNewsMedia organisations rap State security over Mugabe pictures

Media organisations rap State security over Mugabe pictures

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MEDIA organisations have rapped the heavy-handedness exhibited by President Robert Mugabe’s security personnel who forced journalists to delete images of the falling leader at Harare International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU

Mugabe on return from the African Union summit in Ethiopia had a mishap on his walk from the dais at the airport and missed a step before tumbling, ending on all fours before thousands of bussed Zanu PF supporters, as well as Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and the media.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe) director Nhlanhla Ngwenya yesterday condemned the security staff interference with journalists who were doing their legitimate business.

Ngwenya said covering the First Family has always been risky in a country that does not respect media freedoms.

“It’s on record that coverage of the First Family is a risky business in Zimbabwe. We have had a number of journalists who self-censor themselves when it comes to coverage of the family precisely because they are afraid of the consequences as happened at the airport,” Ngwenya said.

“It’s quite indicative of the wider policy framework of the Zimbabwean media.”

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Forster Dongozi said the conduct of Mugabe’s security was unprofessional.

“From an access to information point of view ,it is improper and very unprofessional of security details to order journalists to delete images from their cameras of an incident that took place in public especially of a President who had been away from the country for a long period,” Dongozi said.

“It is unfortunate for the media to be barred from doing their work.”

However, Dongozi also said that the incident could have been covered differently considering the dignity of the President.
MDC Renewal Team said Wednesday’s harassment of the media personnel by the State agents was a blatant violation of the Constitution and an affront to media freedom.

“It is a national shame that State agents would try to black out an incident that happened in full view of hundreds of people,” the party said. “While we are not celebrating the unfortunate incident that saw the President falling, we condemn in the strongest terms the harassment of journalists who were interrogated and ordered to delete pictures from their cameras.

“The fact that pictures and video footage of the now famous tumble have gone viral is a stark reminder to the State that in this day and age of advanced technology it is near impossible to silence the citizen’s voice.”

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