Home Affairs minister declines to comment on police brutality

HOME Affairs minister Cain Mathema yesterday flew into a rage after being taken to task over police brutality in crushing last week’s shutdown protests, and declared he would not grant interviews to the private media.

BY NQOBNANI NDLOVU

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week called on authorities to investigate and hold accountable members of the security forces who allegedly “unlawfully” used lethal force to quell protests, killing over a dozen, with 68 others left nursing gunshot wounds.

Security forces fired rubber bullets and teargas at alleged protesters before fatally shooting at least 12 people in a scene reminiscent of the August 1 2018 post-election shootings in the capital.

About 172 were left injured, with 68 nursing gunshot wounds.

“Zimbabwe authorities have a duty to maintain security during protests, but they need to do that without using excessive force. Those responsible for using unlawful lethal force should be promptly investigated and held accountable,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that all security forces shall as far as possible use non-violent means before resorting to force.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mathema flew into a rage, adding he was not only tired of the private media but did not approve of their reportage on national issues.

“I have no time for the private media or the so-called private media because for starters there is nothing called the independent media since they are all foreign sponsored. I do not understand why the private media keep calling and troubling me.

“My policy for years and since 2004 has not been to entertain the private media. I have nothing to say to the private media,” Mathema said.

Media representative bodies such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) immediately called Mathema to order, saying Zimbabweans deserved information

“We continue to keep trying to find each other to build our country…I am sure his colleagues need to help him particularly for a very important ministry that he leads to disseminate information for the consumption by all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation,” said Foster Dongozi, the ZUJ secretary-general.

“We are naturally disappointed as that is not the kind of behaviour that we expect from him. We are urging all government players not to discriminate against so-called private and public media for the interests of ensuring that all people are better informed…”

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