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Journalists’ harassment outright mischief, stupidity


THE arrest of NewsDay reporter, Kenneth Nyangani over a story published in our Monday issue reporting that First Lady Grace Mugabe had donated used underwear, including night garments, to Zanu PF supporters in Mutare borders on mischief, if not outright stupidity by the authorities.

What is disturbing is that this is happening at a time the harassment of journalists on duty by State security apparatuses is on the increase, yet it is government’s job to ensure their safety.

Is it lost on the authorities that journalistic work is protected by the law and journalists must be allowed to carry out their vocation without any hindrance and without fear or risk of bodily harm or injury?

We believe the attack and/or arrest of journalists is a deliberate ploy to harass and intimidate in order to deter them from doing their work.

No doubt, the intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and other media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths.

Even worse is the arrest comes hardly three days after riot police attacked and injured two journalists while they were covering a demonstration in Harare’s central business district.

We wish to remind the authorities that journalists must be allowed to carry out their vocation without any hindrance, as they are not political players, but play a developmental role in society.

Theirs is to check those in authority so that they can deliver on their promises for the benefit of the down-trodden.

It makes no sense to waste State resources arresting journalists on trumped-up charges that will not hold in a court of law. These threats have become part of daily life for many, leading often to self-censorship.

Without question, impunity continues to be one of the leading challenges in terms of media freedom, though certainly not the only one.

It is unfortunate that the media situation in the country continues to decline on a daily basis, leading to the attack or arrests of journalists based on their work — a clear violation of their commitments.

It has not been lost that because Zimbabwe will go into an election next year, hundreds of criminal investigations will be launched by authorities against critical voices.

The role of journalists in the country, and, indeed, the world over, is one that cannot be overstated. We will remain resolute to providing valuable information so that we can better inform ourselves on the world around us, engage in our societies, voice our needs, and connect with one another.

Democracy grows stronger through open debate, including on difficult issues and disagreement. Therefore, the less-privileged in society have dedicated advocates in our journalists.

We will raise our voices for the journalists when we, or the crucial work that we do, is threatened or silenced.

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