Watchdogs bemoan falling media freedoms ahead of elections


ELECTION watchdogs have implored law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of journalists ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Commemorating the International Day of Democracy on September 15, 2022, running under the theme Media Freedom, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said law enforcement agencies should secure the operations of journalists ahead of the 2023 elections.

“Zesn notes with concern the continued attacks, with impunity, of journalists across the divide and calls on the law enforcement agencies and powers that be to ensure the safety of journalists as it is of paramount importance ahead of 2023 elections,” Zesn said.

“There is a need for the State to take effective legal and other measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, ensuring that victims have access to effective remedies as well as upholding and guaranteeing freedom of expression and access to information.”

The pressure group said the government should uphold the principle of holding periodic elections by universal suffrage and put in place measures that ensure the promotion of media freedoms.

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) also said previous elections highlighted that the political environment was not level.

“As the country prepares for the 2023 harmonised elections, the existing political environment does not allow for a free, fair and credible election. By-elections held in March 2022 and more recently in Gokwe Kabuyuni constituency have been marred with violence and intimidation against opposition parties and have not passed the credibility test,” ERC said.

The organisation further implored the government to swiftly implement reforms required to attain a free, fair, and credible election.

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