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Journalists union deplores delayed Chamisa apology over reporters beaten at rally

by Staff reporter
13 Sep 2022 at 05:21hrs | Views
With political tensions continuing to rise ahead of the crunch 2023 elections in the country, the safety of media practitioners has come under the spotlight after the assault of a female journalist over the weekend.

Journalist Ruvimbo Muchenje was assaulted by opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) security details while on assignment to cover a political rally in Chinhoyi.

Muchenje's assault comes barely a month after four journalists were left injured covering the opposition CCC scheduled rally in Gokwe-Kabuyuni.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa condemned the attack on Muchenje in a statement Monday.

"The journalists … were humiliated, harassed and prevented from executing their duties by party (CCC) security officers," said the minister.

"We have witnessed this trend of harassing and assaulting reporters growing in the last couple of weeks and, as Government, we do not condone any acts of violence against journalists."

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) Secretary General, Perfect Hlongwane bemoaned the continued shrinking of media spaces in the coverage of political gatherings.

"The increase in the number of our members who are being harassed at political gatherings by different political parties is worrying and should not be condoned.

"The belated apology by CCC for assaulting an accredited journalists on duty only shows that the operating environment for media practitioners remains hostile and unsafe which is frightening as we move closer to 2023," said Hlongwane.

CCC spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere acknowledged the assault on Muchenje blaming the "tightened" security on the "attempted assassination" of party president Chamisa.

"For the avoidance of doubt, we remain committed to ensuring a free and safe environment for journalists who cover our events. Journalism is never a crime.

"Lessons have been learnt from this incident and we are improving our protocols to ensure such an incident does not transpire in the future," said Mahere.

Media watchdog, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, has raised concern over an upsurge of attacks on media workers at the hands of political parties.

"This year has witnessed an upsurge in the number of attacks against journalists and this is considerably worrying as the country moves towards elections next year.

"The role of journalists in covering rallies is to allow the public to receive reliable information and this should not be underestimated," said MISA in a statement.

In May, two other local journalists were arraigned before the courts after being arrested while discharging their duties, in another harassment of media practitioners.

In an unusual move last month, CCC security details turned away "suspicious" journalists in Harare from a Press conference that was to be addressed by Nelson Chamisa.

Source - NewZimbabwe