Journalists seek meeting with Chihuri over harassments

HARARE - Local press freedom and free expression lobby group — the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter  — is seeking a meeting with police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri over treatment of journalists by the law enforcement agents during demonstrations.

The comes as Misa Zimbabwe is worried by the growing incidents of  the number of journalists arrested or assaulted by the police while covering protests by opposition activists and members of various groupings.

“It is indeed the duty of journalists to cover and report issues and all events in the country, including demonstrations,” reads part of the letter sent to Chihuri on Monday by Misa Zimbabwe board of trustees chairman, Cris Chinaka.

“While we do not seek to teach the police on how to do their job in maintaining law and order, we believe that responsibility also includes ensuring the safety and security of journalists who will be dutifully executing their mandate.

“In fact, it is the same call of duty that the police find themselves answering to during protests that journalists also have to respond to. This is why they find themselves on the streets, precisely to cover the protests as they unravel.”

Dozens of journalists have been either arrested or savaged by police during protests.

Last month BBC cameraman Tendai Musiya was targeted by baton-wielding riot police when he was severely beaten while filming a demonstration by unemployed graduates and pro-democracy groups in central Harare.

Several journalists were not spared in the mayhem that ensued when police moved in to crush the protests.

Freelance journalists Tendai Mandimika and James Jemwa were arrested while covering another demonstration in the capital and spent close to two weeks held at the Harare Remand Prison.

Two weeks ago, police left for dead Bulawayo-based freelance journalist Crispen Ndlovu who was also covering demonstrations in the country’s second largest city.

Ndlovu was temporary admitted in hospital as injuries sustained during the beatings worsened while he was in police custody.

“Nothing else drives them (journalists), but to get the story for the benefit of the general public and indeed policy makers who also use news reports to make informed decisions in the formulation of policies,” said Chinaka as he explained the role of journalists.

Zimbabwe is currently in the middle of a severe economic crisis which has seen angry ordinary people confronting government over the meltdown which they blame on President Robert Mugabe.

Comments (3)

While i concur to almost all of what has been said, i would love to say this, however, that the problem with "some" journalists is that they would want to be heroes as they do their duties. They no longer go to cover demonstrations for the sake of it, but to be seen by the whole world that they were there. This would mean that they will be among the demonstrating people, and will be part of the demonstration. So when the police approaches, how do you expect the police to distinguish that this is a journalists and this is not, given the fact that both journalists and other ordinary people would be in a single bunch? Some reporters use their personal phones to capture the goings-on, while some use cameras. So that's part of the profession guys. "When it happens we will be there!" Even when the beatings come, we will be there too!! Beaten along with ordinary citizens! But anyway,Kuzalunga,asijiki!

Emperor - 14 September 2016

so you want them to be "there" while they are removed from ther? how is that possible? even war jouralists are there in think of action. problem is makadyiswa hudzvinyiriri naMugabe and you think thats normal!

Donato Matibili - 14 September 2016

what's the purpose of being distinguished? both demonstrators and journalists have a constitutional right to participate as enshrined.those who harass them are on the wrong side of the law. they have a case.

zero - 15 September 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.