Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has called on political parties to restrain their supporters from attacking journalists while in the process of executing their official duties as acting in that manner is tantamount to muzzling the Press.
In a statement yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said it is barbaric and outrageous for journalists to be attacked while discharging their duties.
Her sentiments come after two journalists from an online publication, The NewsHawks, were assaulted while covering a Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) rally in Chinhoyi on Sunday.
“The ministry condemns the barbaric and outrageous assault of journalists at a rally in Chinhoyi over the weekend. The journalists, Ruvimbo Muchenje and Nunurai Jena were humiliated, harassed and prevented from executing their duties by party security officers as they tried to gain entry into Gadzema stadium to cover the rally on 11 September 2022,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
It is not the first time for journalists to be attacked while covering the Mr Nelson Chamisa-led party.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government does not condone any acts of violence against journalists.
She said political parties should be held liable for any mishaps that happen during their rallies.
“Political parties should remember they are responsible for mishaps that happen at their rallies and should at all times restrain their supporters and security officers. The attack on female journalists’ border on gender-based violence, something we have strongly spoken about,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“It is the right of the media to cover events and for information to be given to them. Political parties should not muzzle the Press and decide the events they want them to cover.”
On several occasions the opposition party has declared that it will not allow some journalists to cover its events.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) also condemned the latest attack on the media.
ZUJ secretary general Perfect Hlongwane said the attacks on journalists while on line of duty is disturbing.
“The latest incident where The NewsHawks journalist Ruvimbo Muchenje was assaulted by CCC security details at a rally in Chinhoyi is saddening. As an organisation that represents journalists, we are deeply concerned by the pace at which the security of our members is deteriorating and the criminalisation of the profession,” he said.
Hlongwane urged police to investigate the culprits and bring them to book.
“As we are drawing closer to the general elections, we shudder to think what 2023 will look like if journalists will be treated in this manner. We need to deal with this now and bring to an end these attacks and harassment of journalists,” he said.
“We call on political parties to control their supporters to refrain from harassing and attacking journalists. Journalism must not be criminalised and journalists should be allowed to do their jobs without fear or favour.” – @nqotshili.