HARARE - A government meeting on Tuesday resolved to overturn a police ban on a World Press Freedom Day march, with Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi saying the scribes were now free to stage the commemorations.
The ban of the march, which had earlier been cleared by the police, drew the ire of media stakeholders, including Jonathan Moyo, the minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
Charity Charamba, the police spokesperson, had referred questions to Mohadi, who said yesterday the Press was now free to stage the commemorations.
“There was a communication breakdown between the police and the organisers and the journalists are now free to march,” Mohadi told the Daily News.
Officer commanding Harare, chief superintendent Newbert Saunyama, on April 16 authorised the march, that had been organised by the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras), Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), 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 on Saturday 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 by the police in a strongly-worded statement, 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.”
Vivienne Marara, the national coordinator for Zacras, that was instrumental in the planning of the march, welcomed the new government position.
“This was an event that was organised collectively with other partners so we are going to sit down and see if we can go ahead with the commemorations,” said Marara, who added that the police ban caused serious logistical problems.
May 3 is set aside to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day was held under the theme ‘Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda.’