HARARE - Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister, Jonathan Moyo has strongly condemned police’s ban on a march to mark World Press Freedom Day, saying the show of force was not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination.
Journalists planning to stage the peaceful march in Harare yesterday were blockaded by baton-wielding armed riot police.
Officer commanding Harare, chief superintendent Newbert Saunyama, on April 16 authorised the march, that had been organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) in conjunction with the Unesco office in Harare with the support of the ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services along with other stakeholders, but withdrew the authorisation yesterday ostensibly due to “cropping up of other events of national interest and our police officers will be committed to such events.”
Moyo denounced the 11th hour cancellation of the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day by the police in a strongly-worded statement to the Daily News, describing the ban as “most unfortunate” and “very disappointing as it is manifestly neither in the public nor national interest not least because it is patently unconstitutional and without any transparent, rational or constructive justification.”
“It should be placed on record that the knee-jerk propensity to always and everywhere use or show force for its own sake is not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination,” Moyo said in the statement.
“In point of fact, that propensity can be quite reactionary and even subversive.
“The use or show of force should always and everywhere have a transparent and constitutionally and rationally-justifiable purpose.
“Otherwise it should be said that the use or show of force does not inherently or by itself inspire any national confidence.
“While the use or show of force may be intended to instill fear or to display power, there’s more than enough experience to show that the unintended consequence of methods that gratuitously seek to instill fear or to display can be very serious contempt.
“In any case, there’s no virtue or gain in fear. That is why it is far better to always seek to instill hope than to induce fear through the use or show of force. Hope is better than fear.”
Moyo said on the one day when the national media is, along with its peers around the globe, commemorating World Press Freedom Day, “it cannot be right that patently unconstitutional action is cynically used as an enforcement of law and order.”
“What is important to understand by all stakeholders, especially ZRP, is that, with the advent of the new Constitution which came into full effect upon the inauguration of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe on 22 August 2013, freedom of the media in Zimbabwe is now a constitutional matter and nobody has the right or option to ignore this fundamental reality of our national jurisprudence,” Moyo said.
Moyo said “it is propitious for those of us in public service, including ZRP, to understand that serving the public is not a one way street but a multiple-lane avenue whose traverse requires those who are in the public service to cooperate and indeed respect those whom they serve and vice versa.”
“Any holier-than-thou-attitude which eschews any and all accountability is simply unacceptable and therefore intolerable as it is inconsistent not only with our new constitutional dispensation but also with the values and ideals of our heroic liberation struggle,” Moyo said.