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Crackdown on Journalists Angers Media Watchdogs

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Map of Zimbabwe

Map of Zimbabwe

Alarmed by the recent wave of arrests of independent journalists in Zimbabwe, media watchdogs, among them Reporters Without Borders, have come out strongly against Harare urging authorities to take measures against those responsible for physical attacks on reporters.

The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists have joined Reporters Without Borders in condemning attacks on the independent media after several journalists were arrested and harassed while on duty.

In the last month, some six journalists from the private media have been arrested and some are currently facing criminal libel charges over reports in their newspapers.

These include Daily News editor Stanley Gama and his deputy Chris Goko, journalist Kudakwashe Matura of the Kariba News and workers from the African Open Media Initiative (Afromedia)

Most recently, the unions were angered by South African politican Julius Malema and his bodyguards who allegedly threatened and attacked two Daily News journalists as they attempted to interview Malema over his problems at home.

Media proponents condemned the actions and moved to raise an official complaint with the South African embassy in Harare.

Africa Desk head at Reporters Without Borders, Ambroise Pierre, told VOA his organization is concerned by the surge in attacks on the independent media.

MISA-Zimbabwe fears this is the beginning of worse things to come for journalists as the country heads towards fresh elections next year.

Chairman Njabulo Ncube said with fresh elections around the corner journalists become instant targets.

In Chinhoyi, meanwhile, Criminal Investigation Department officers have since Tuesday been questioning a Weekly Mirrior editor Dennis Kagonye over a story published last month. The story alleged that a chief in the province was terrosing a local village head.

Journalist Nhau Mangirazi from the same stable was summoned Wednesday by CID officers in Karoi over that story.

Kagonye said the officers wanted to know why they published the story titled 'Chief Terrorizes Defiant Headman' saying this was tantamount to demeaning the chief.

But Kagonye stood by the story, adding that Chief Trymore Manyepa Dandawa was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Freelance journalist Valentine Maponga blasted the government for harassing independent journalists in a bid to silence them.