The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has asked the police in Zimbabwe to allow journalists carry out their duties during a new 30-day national lockdown.
The government of Zimbabwe locked down the nation to prevent further spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Journalists, it is understood, were assaulted, arrested and detained during the country’s first lockdown in March last year.
During the period, some police operatives and soldiers denied many journalists passage at security check points, insisting the media was not covered under essential services allowed to work throughout the enforced job break.
A freelance journalist Frank Chikowore and a reporter with 263Chat Samuel Takawira were charged with failing to comply with Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 lockdown order when they wanted to interview three hospitalised opposition activists.
In a letter to the Police Commissioner General, Godwin Matanga, MISA called for the safety and security of journalists during the Covid-19 lockdown.
‘MISA Zimbabwe is humbly reaching out and appealing to your esteemed offices to ensure the safety and security of journalists, who in terms of the regulations, are providers of essential services’, the letter read.
‘Our appeal and concern on the safety and security of journalists is informed by the media freedom violations that ensued when the country implemented the first national lockdown measures in March 2020’.
In a speech to the nation in August 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared that his government was facing ‘many hurdles and attacks’ and that ‘the bad apples who have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out’.
He added, ‘We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors’.
But the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum condemned the use of coercion on dissenting voices.
Source: New Zimbabwe
Photo source: Paul Kagame