BY OBEY MANAYITI
FOREIGN Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo yesterday said the government is keen on improving the media sector, claiming journalists’ working environment has improved under the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Conference for Media Freedom in the United Kingdom, Moyo said under Mnangagwa, no journalist has been killed or abducted.
For several years, journalism in Zimbabwe has been a minefield, coupled with arbitrary arrests and wanton harassment of media practitioners, especially those seen as exposing the government.
Moyo said while concern over the journalism fraternity remained high in other countries, Zimbabwe was doing fairly well under the current administration.
“It was clear in the debate that journalism was under threat in many countries and the profession itself was under threat, but I am happy to say Zimbabwe is very conspicuous of its positive handling and defence of media freedom and journalism because no one has been killed in the new dispensation,” he said.
“No journalist has been abducted in the new dispensation and no journalist has been barred in the new dispensation and this is obviously an encouraging disposition for Zimbabwe.”
However, Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa)-Zimbabwe chapter director Tabani Moyo said contrary to what Moyo said, the media sector in Zimbabwe was under siege.
“As Misa Zimbabwe, we want to bring to the attention of the minister the following: That the media violations in Zimbabwe have been on a spiral increase since November 2017,” he said, adding there had been 36 violations recorded in 2018, alone most of which were military-induced.
He gave a number of examples of violations involving local and foreign journalists.
“In 2019, we have witnessed quite a number of uncharacteristic developments in terms of the dire nature of the industry. For the first time, we saw police teargassing a newsroom at 263 Chat,” the Misa-Zimbabwe boss said.
“This rosy picture that the media is at ease with itself and is operating with minimum hindrance is an issue which highly needs to be attended to. The attacks are on the rise.”
On the legislation side, the Misa-Zimbabwe boss said nothing was really changing because the government was coming up with more repressive laws while the airwaves continued being monopolised by the State and this was not evidence of a liberated media.