Africa’s top news editors are in Harare this week to learn more about Zimbabwe’s media landscape and see firsthand preparations for the United Nations World Tourism Organization General Assembly gathering slated for Victoria Falls later this year.
Chairpersons for the African Editors’ Forums across the continent are in Zimbabwe for two days to assess the media, political, and social environments in the country.
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chairman Brian Mangwende said: “The visit will also enable the editors from other African countries to appreciate the challenges Zimbabwe faces and help reestablish contacts for news and current affairs sources.”
Mr. Mangwende said the visit may also strengthen links between editors and media advocacy groups in the region and the continent. The African editors are meeting media organizations, such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, and others.
The group was also expected to meet Webster Shamu, Minister of Media and Information, and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who will update editors on the country’s preparations for the UN tourism gathering scheduled for Victoria Falls and Livingstone in August.
Some of those visiting include Mourmina Cheriff Sy of Burkina Faso, Elizabeth Kalambo-Mule of Namibia and Mpho Dibeela of Botswana.
Mr. Mangwende said the media in Zimbabwe face serious challenges, including repressive media laws.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary Foster Dongozi said the operating environment was unsafe.
“Then, of course,” Mangwende said, “the issue of continued harassment of journalists by the police and militia. That has been …recurring regularly, and that is unacceptable and we cannot allow that to continue. The beating up of newspaper vendors, people that sell newspapers, has also been common in 2012, and that again is unacceptable.”
Mr. Dongozi said ZUJ feared the situation would deteriorate this year as the country is expected to hold a constitutional referendum and elections.