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MDC-Alliance should stop harassing journalists

19 Mar 2018 at 13:39hrs | Views
It is saddening that journalists who covered the MDC Alliance rally in Gweru over the weekend became victims of that party's supporters, after they were heavily stoned by rowdy members of that opposition outfit.

Although MDC-T leader, Nelson Chamisa said his party was committed to ensuring the safety and security of journalists at all times, it was reported that the MDC Alliance supporters were harassing journalists who were covering their rally in the City of Progress, claiming that they were distracting them from having a full view of their leader.

The MDC Alliance has been ignoring the call by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to have a peaceful election environment before, during and after elections.

It is worthy to note that the media plays a very crucial role in our society, more so at this crucial juncture of elections. Attacks on innocent journalists who will be performing their duty of covering such rallies is political violence, which should not be accepted by any sane leader.   

On the 1st of March 2018, The Herald's senior reporter Zvamaida Murwira and a freelance journalist Anna Chibamu were also harassed by the MDC-T vanguard at Harvest House during a press conference where Chamisa was confirmed as that party's leader.

Following the attack of the two journalists on 5 March 2018, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) released a statement against hate speech and abuse of journalists by MDC-T leadership and youth. ZUJ posted on its Facebook page condemning the violence saying, "ZUJ would like to register its alarm and concern following the hate speech and abuse directed at two journalists by the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) and some rowdy youths.

"We call on the MDC together with their young people to shun violence against journalists or anybody for that matter. If they have concerns they know who to lodge their complaints with…"

The unacceptable behaviour by MDC-T thugs must not be allowed to continue and the unruly members involved in the latest attack must be brought to book as a matter of urgency. The Zimbabwe Republic Police should vigorously act on this issue of harassment of journalists by opposition party members.  

Among other electoral reforms, the MDC-T has been crying for media reforms which include being covered by all media houses. However, the MDC-T has been enjoying broadcasts from pirate radio stations which blasts and de-campaign other political parties.

While presenting on the role of the police in protecting journalists at the Elections, Safety and Security workshop in Masvingo last Saturday, Police deputy national spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said security of journalists should always be guaranteed.

On the other hand, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe chapter posted a tweet on its handle expressing their concerns over the harassment of journalists by MDC- Alliance supporters.

MISA tweeted that, "We are following upon reports of possible assault of journalists at yesterday's MDC-T rally. Please contact us if you have any information on this incident."  

Currently, some journalists are seriously debating if they should risk their lives by attending events hosted by the MDC-T.

A correspondent for Aljazeera Media Network, Harugumi Mutasa once lambasted MDC Alliance supporters for attacking journalists. Mutasa openly said that it was now a risk to cover opposition rallies as most of them are packed with violence and harassment.

It is pleasing to note that President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to implement media reforms that the opposition has been clamoring for. The President said these reassuring remarks at a CEO's Africa Roundtable conference that was held in Victoria Falls last week. He said, "…we are looking at that issue of liberalising free waves within the media fraternity but bear in mind that after the coming elections that's when we are going to be implementing most of these programs."

When implementing the media reforms, President Mnangagwa should be encouraged to address the issue of harassment of journalists by members of political parties.

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