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Chamisa a predator of press freedom

11 Mar 2022 at 05:39hrs | Views
When Nelson Chamisa formed a new political party which he christened the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), many people had expectations that there would be a paradigm shift from the MDC, where the former was rooted in.

Chamisa has been marketing the new formation as a clean break from Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, hence his slogan – "Behold the new".

Alas, the hopes continue to be dampened as the new kid on the block is progressively taking the shape of its former self. That has cemented some critic's argument that the CCC was just an old wine in new wineskins.

Some of Chamisa's opponents and lieutenants now fear that the youthful leader and his CCC are worse dictators than those they accuse of same.

Chamisa's declaration of war on public media last week will suffice to convince everybody that the CCC was even more dangerous than the Nazi Party.

"Those who are associated with Zanu-PF may not be able to have access to our rallies. Our laxity, our magnanimity, and generosity are being abused. We will limit access to our venues to those journalists who are working for Zanu-PF and we know you. We will not allow you," said Mr Chamisa at a press conference.

That statement triggered adverse comments and condemnation even from allied media organisations such as the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF), Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and Young Journalists Association (YOJA) among others.

Surprisingly, the usual self-appointed monitor of media freedom, the US Embassy in Zimbabwe, was mum on the issue. If the same utterances had been made by Zanu-PF, the outcry would have been of seismic proportions.

This calls for the US Embassy to mask their agenda by at least weeping crocodile tears in such circumstances. Selective application of the law has no place in a democracy.

Mr Chamisa prides himself of being a fighter for democracy, but his manner continues to be at variance with the principles of a democratic movement. He must live up to, and practice the democracy that he generously prescribes to others.

One tends to think that he transformed Tsvangirai's democratic movement to a mere citizens' coalition perhaps to evade accountability for his autocratic leadership. It would have been a great misnomer to have a despotic leader at the helm of a self-styled movement for democratic change.

Mr Chamisa is not even shameful about it. While announcing his new party name, he revealed that he kept the name to himself for a while since he feared that his lieutenants would disclose it to Zanu-PF.

That only goes to show that the name of the new party was not a product of consultation.

He is running that party like his personal tuckshop. Nobody is allowed to speak at his rallies. They are only given a few minutes just to confirm his inconceivable statements.

You must see how the lieutenants run to the stage when they are discourteously ordered to do so.

Nobody has a position save for him. This has bred discontent within the interim leadership. Professor Welshman Ncube had to feign illness to avoid attending the Harare by-election campaign launch.

According to impeccable sources, Prof Ncube even refused to take Chamisa's orders of taking a begging bowel to the local embassies arguing that he needed to know the capacity in which he would carry out the task since he has been stripped of his deputy presidency.

It is beginning to dawn on the members of his new party and allied organisations that they have a tyrant at their helm, little wonder they have nicknamed him "tin-pot dictator".

Welcome to the world of reality citizens! This is exactly what we have been saying the whole time. The young man is a real enemy of democracy and media freedom.

This is not the first time that media freedom has been threatened by opposition leaders who ironically masquerade as the paragons of democracy and defenders of media freedom.

Robert Tapfumaneyi, a journalist who works for Sly Media was in January 2020, harassed and attacked by MDC Alliance security staff who accused him of working for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The overzealous security also grabbed Tapfumaneyi's camera and threw it to the floor and prevented him from covering the event.

Chamisa never showed remorse for the savage attack on a journalist doing his duties. The party's deputy spokesperson then, Luke Tamborinyoka had to give an insincere apology.

The yellow baby was rooted in the MDC, as such, it inherited the culture of violence which has been in the DNA of the latter.

Reporters Without Borders rightly noted that "the ruling Zanu-PF party is not alone in showing hostility to the media and in opposing press freedom . . . Members of the opposition are also responsible for a climate of intimidation."

Under the leadership of Tsvangirai who is Chamisa's mentor, each gathering would bear scars of violence with several journalists facing harassment and intimidation for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression.

On 7 June 2013, journalist Herbert Moyo of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, was nearly killed by the MDC members while covering a demonstration in the Sunningdale, Harare.

Moyo was taking photos of demonstrators protesting against the imposition of candidates when a group of thugs surrounded him and beat him up. The MDC spokesman then, Douglas Mwonzora, stepped in to end the attack. What a peacemaker! Hitherto, his party has no record of hostility to the media.  

The day before Moyo's attack, Tsvangirai's bodyguards roughed up Mashudu Netsianda, a reporter for the Chronicle in Bulawayo, before seizing his notebook and deleting recordings he had made on his mobile phone.

It's unfortunate that journalists have been attacked either under the nose of the opposition leadership or it is the leadership itself that pull off the attack. In May of the same year, Tsvangirai himself threatened the media.

"You cannot have a newspaper with six articles saying Tsvangirai this and Tsvangirai that," he said.

"Every day! Regai vakadaro. But musi umwe gava richadambura musungo (Leave them like that, but one day the tables will be turned). I want to tell you this, muchadya izvozvo (you will face the music)," he bellowed his threats.

The CCC interim co-vice leader, Tendai Biti once threatened ZiFM radio journalist, Garikai Fadzai. The journalist was doing a follow up story on the use of the US$50 000 Constituency Development fund which Biti received as House of Assembly member for Harare East.

"Ende mukaita zvemangamanga ndinokusuwai to the m****(unprinted word). Wazvinzwa here mukomana," thundered Biti.

Journalists from the state media have been the major targets for attack by the opposition.

They now shun the opposition's rallies and events. When they avoid, the same people complain of media blockade.

Joseph Madzimure, a reporter with The Herald was last year barred from a press conference that was being addressed by Fadzai Mahere at the Media Centre in Harare. In 2019, Mr Chamisa's security attacked a ZBC reporter at a rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru. The ZBC crew had to leave the event in a rush.

At a Press conference at Harvest House in March 2019, to confirm Mr Chamisa as the leader of that party, Zvamaida Murwira of The Herald and freelance journalist Anna Chibamu were also attacked. The marauding youths also manhandled the then Herald photographer Tawanda Mudimu who was covering a demonstration by activists who were protesting against the imposition of candidates.

In 2016, MDC youths also burnt a ZBC vehicle during protests organised by that party's youth wing.

That kind of behaviour has no future in a democratic society. Unfortunately it is the same culture of violence that Chamisa is preserving. He has become the worst predator of press freedom.

Mr Chamisa has blocked a multitude of citizens, including yours truly from accessing his twitter handle. Most of them were blocked after sincerely asking pertinent questions on governance issues.

His opponent, President Mnangagwa never blocked anyone despite a volley of nonsense that is posted on his twitter handle daily.

The private media dedicate acres of space to stories that malign the President without receiving similar threats that the state media journalists received from Mr Chamisa. This is despite that he wields the powers to cause the closure of such rabid media.  

Mr Chamisa is failing to appreciate that he threw himself into public life by pretending to fight for democracy. Whatever he does is newsworthy and he is ever under scrutiny by the people who want to understand the person they are asked to invest their votes in.

Those who manage his media relations must advise him that it is within the media's democratic right to receive and impart information. He must either develop a thick skin or ship out of the political front.

While the New Dispensation has taken giant steps in rescinding laws that hinder the enjoyment of rights such as media freedom, freedom of expression and others that are provided for in the Constitution, some tyrannical politicians continue to be hindrances to the enjoyment of such rights.

The nation is very apprehensive about the political leader to emerge out of Mr Chamisa.

The threat to the media is just a microcosm of what awaits Zimbabweans should he miraculously become the president of this country.

Source - The Herald
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