Zimbabwe: IFJ backs calls for urgent action as press freedom violations soar

The International Federation of Journalists has demanded urgent action to protect journalists in Zimbabwe as the country’s press freedom situation deteriorates.

Echoing statements made by IFJ affiliate, theZimbabwe Union of Journalists, ZUJ, The IFJ has expressed its grave concern and outrage at the increasing number of press freedom violations and threats to the safety and security of journalists in Zimbabwe.

The ZUJ report that this week there have already been four cases in which journalists were physically beaten or prevented from conducting their lawful work by members of different security forces.

On Sunday, 17 November, a  journalist with The Mirror in Masvingo, Nkulumani  Mlambo was ejected from a public event  officiated by Masvingo  Minister of State  Ezra Chadzamira.

The event was attended by Italian investors who wanted to make an assessment of investment opportunities in Chiredzi.

Mlambo told ZUJ that state security officers threatened to forcefully eject him from the event as their superiors had instructed them to remove him, forcing him to depart in fear.

He said the harassment had left him traumatised as it had affected his ability to do his work as a result of the threats.

On Wednesday 20 November, three journalists were violently assaulted by members of the police while covering a gathering of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, MDC, in central Harare.

Among those who were assaulted were Ranganai Zimunya of Community Radio Harare, CORAH.

The other victims of the state-sponsored brutality are Daniel Chigundu and an intern, Loreen Tadzingwa,who work for an online publication, OpenParly.

ZUJ Secretary Foster Dongozi said the continued harassment of journalists by members of the security forces was totally unacceptable.

“There is carnage out there. Acts of harassment, intimidation, aggression and brutality continue to be unleashed on defenceless and innocent journalists in Zimbabwe.

“The epidemic of intolerance and violence has to stop and we are calling on the Zimbabwean government to protect its citizens who work as journalists,” said Dongozi.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “As the press freedom situation deteriorates and journalists are increasingly targeted by the security forces, the international community must demand action to protect media professionals. The government must act to stop the violence and threats and those who attack journalists must be brought to justice”.

For more Information, please contact the IFJ - Africa Office

1st Floor, Maison de la Presse, 5 Rue X Corniche, Medina,

BP 64257, Dakar, Senegal

Tel: +221- 33 867 95 86/87; Fax: +221- 33 827 02