The rapprochement and dialogue between the police and journalists over the past couple of weeks is a welcome development and we hope it bodes well for future relations between the two groups.
In recent years, coinciding with protests by Zimbabweans, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has tended to treat journalists as enemies and a number of scribes have been victims of police brutality.
Journalists have often raised the issue, but the police approached it with closed ears and refused to entertain legitimate concerns.
Pictures of police officers assaulting journalists – particularly in 2016 – went viral, but the mandarins in the force seemed not to be jerked into action.
A NewsDay journalist was savagely attacked by a police officer, but to this day, we are yet to hear about any investigation and instead at some point the scribe was the one accused of attacking the cop, something that was obviously untrue.
Another journalist was detained for taking pictures at a police roadblock showing the officers’ nonchalant attitude to their duties, as they conducted private business instead of attending to motorists.
For his troubles, he was caged and only released after paying an admission of guilt fine.
In some cases, provincial police spokesperson would refuse to comment to private media journalists, reserving their statements for the State media.
There was no need for this adversarial relationship, as the journalists were only doing their jobs.
The police officers on the other hand seemed to treat journalists as enemies, rather than people with a constitutional duty to inform the country about developments nationwide.
Thus, we appreciate the efforts of media groups and the police to try to find common ground.
The police and journalists need each other for information dissemination and there was no need for the relationship that was obtaining previously.
It is imperative that the police hierarchy tells junior officers that journalists should be allowed to conduct their duties without hindrance.
The practice of battering media personnel is barbaric and belongs to the Stone Age, with no place in a modern society.
Obviously, attitudes will not change overnight, but we appreciate the engagement between the two groups and hopefully, reports of police battering or detaining journalists for doing their jobs will be a thing of the past.