BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
NORTON Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa has come under fire for threatening to team up with Zanu PF in Parliament and come up with laws that criminalise journalism.
Mliswa told journalists during the Press Conference at his Borrowdale home on Thursday that he was unhappy with how journalists covered his stormy relationship with estranged girlfriend Susan Mutami.
“If there is ever a time I am going to move a motion in Parliament against journalists to be given five years in prison, it is this time around because you cannot at all rule by the stroke of the pen and lie,” said Mliswa.
“There must be a law that is supposed to come in and you know the ruling party has always wanted to curtail you. They have two thirds, I will move the motion and the bill will pass, you cannot at all get away with it. There must be a price journalists must pay for being unethical.”
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Michael Chideme in a statement called Mliswa to order saying his threats were not in sync with calls for co-existence between media practitioners and government.
“The Zimbabwe Union of Journalist strongly condemns threats by Norton MP Temba Mliswa to use his parliamentary privilege to lobby for tighter controls of journalistic practice,” Chideme said.
“Against this background, ZUJ views Honourable Mliswa’s views as unhelpful in the fight for these media reforms which are key to a just and democratic society as underpinned by press freedoms and freedom of expression.”
Chideme said Mliswa’s utterances come even as the government acknowledged the country’s hostile media environment, which it is trying to fine tune in consultation with stakeholders so that it is in sync with the Constitution and regional as well as international principles.
“The union therefore urges leaders to always rise above narrow pursuits and instead use the power of their offices to good use by championing the overall sanctity of the tenets of the Constitution for the general good of the country.”
Mliswa has approached the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe for redress.
VMCZ executive director Loughty Dube said the statements by Mliswa against journalists were uncalled for but confirmed the Norton MP had approached his organisation.
“Threats made by Mliswa against journalists are unfortunate because terror tactics against the media are used by fascist regimes.
“To hear Mliswa who is an independent MP saying those things is unfortunate. What is fortunate is that he has officially lodged a complaint and it is an amicable way of dealing with the matter,” Dube said.