Speaker to probe scribes' abuse

HARARE - Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda says he will probe the abuse and harassment of journalists by some overzealous officials, who last week forced media practitioners to switch off their phones and cameras during a parliamentary session.

What irked journalists and opposition MPs was the fact that the same event was being broadcast live on State television.

James Maridadi, MDC MP for Mabvuku-Tafara, raised the issue in Parliament last week arguing that journalists cannot be forced to switch off their journalistic gadgets.

“In terms of section 62 of the Constitution every citizen and Zimbabwe media must have a right to access information. On Wednesday (last week) members of the fourth estate were ordered to switch off cell phones and barred from taking pictures in the House,” Maridadi said on Thursday last week.

“It is an infringement of access to information. We want an investigation on who ordered them to switch off their cell phones and whether the order came from you, Mr Speaker.”

In his response Mudenda said the matter was indeed grave and had to be investigated.

“I am going to investigate the matter and find out what happened and it will be good if I have journalists as witnesses, especially those who were victims of this incident. I am calling for a meeting with journalists next week on Tuesday,” said Mudenda.

On Wednesday last week, security personnel at the august House threatened to confiscate cameras and cell phones from journalists if they used them during the tense parliamentary session where MPs openly clashed.

The parliamentary debate was being beamed live on ZTV, with MDC legislators baying for the blood of Cabinet ministers in the habit of bunking Parliament.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Moyo, minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, is expected together with ZBC senior management and the board of directors to appear before the Parliament portfolio committee on Media this week to give oral evidence on the outcome of the forensic audit conducted at ZBC last year.

William Dhewa, Umzingwane legislator and chairperson of the parliamentary media portfolio committee, said his committee is looking forward to the hearing.

“We were expecting ZBC management and minister Moyo last week but they did not turn up. They have indicated that they are coming this week when Parliament resumes its sitting. We want to know what has happened at ZBC since we had a meeting with them last year,” said Dhewa.

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