Media organisations have attacked the timing and arrest of journalists working for a foreign-linked news agency at a time Zimbabwe is set to host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next August.
The hosting of the event was largely seen as an opprtunity to spruce up Zimbabwe’s battered image after years of recession, violent elections and massive human rights abuses.
The arrest of eight journalists last night of the United Kingdom based Afro News Agency Broadcasting or ATV has sparked anger among local journalists.
The arrested journalists spent the whole day Thursday being questioned at Harare Central Police Station.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary general Foster Dongozi said the arrest is as good as shooting oneself in the foot.
Zimbabwe has been desperate for foreign direct investment but largely remains a hardsell abroad given the negative publicity the country has received mainly due to some disturbing events associated with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
Media Institute of Zimbabwe director, Nhlahla Ngwenya, condemned the arrest saying they expect more arrests as the country prepares for a crucial consitutional indaba and general elections.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey has released its quarterly survey indicating that all state-run media are the most listened to and read in the country.
The survey found that the Herald maintained its pole position as the most read paper by at least 31 percent of the population with News Day and the Daily News tied at 22 percent.
It also found that Power FM remained on top with new industry players Star FM and ZiFM closely behind.
Readership of newspapers, according to the survey, has declined as many Zimbabweans now have access to the Internet, through mobile phones, and utilize newspapers online to access information.
The survey was carried out from July to September focusing on urban residents.
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe director Andrew Moyse said media trends in Zimbabwe have remained roughly the same, even in the age of new media.