Journalists attack condemned

HARARE - Journalists and human rights organisations have condemned the brutal assault of journalists by police during Wednesday’s protest against bond notes and rising unemployment.

The demonstration, sanctioned by the courts, turned bloody as the police teargassed and attacked the protestors, including journalists.

Journalists attacked include Bridget Mananavire, Tendai Musiya, Haru Mutasa, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, Tony Manyangadze, Idah Mhetu, Lawrence Chiminhu and Christopher Mahove.

Tanaka Marazi, an unemployed graduate, was later admitted to hospital after he was injured in the police attacks.

This comes after the Daily News’ senior reporter Mugove Tafirenyika was assaulted last week at the Zanu PF headquarters while covering an event.

Over the past two months, Zimbabweans have been demonstrating against President Robert Mugabe’s misrule, including his failure to fulfil his 2013 election campaign promise to create 2,2 million jobs.

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe said it “condemns in the strongest terms the increased cases of brutality against journalists that have been reported in the last eight months”.

“The upsurge of cases involving the assault of journalists by police and members of political parties are cause for serious concern,” the council said.

Media Institute of Southern Africa programmes coordinator, Nyasha Nyakunu, said the repeated assault of journalists, despite them displaying their press cards, showed that the safety and security of journalists was at risk.

“It is indeed worrying that the police as custodians of the law should themselves be on the forefront of these wanton unlawful assaults of journalists whose work and right to cover and report events as they unfold is protected by the Constitution,” Nyakunu said.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also condemned the attacks on journalists saying an investigation must be done to end the abuse.

“Far from condemning these excesses, the president condones them because he identifies journalists with the opposition and does not recognise their public service function,” RSF said.

RSF attributes the lack of press freedom in some countries to fear and tension coupled with increasing paranoia by the countries’ leaders.

According to RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Zimbabwe is ranked 124 out of 180 countries, with Mugabe listed as a predator of press freedom.

Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chairperson, Njabulo Ncube, said journalism should not be treated as a crime but a profession like all others.

He said government “must respect Sections 58 and 61 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of association, expression and the media”.

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