IFJ Condemns Media Commission Attack on Zimbabwe Union of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned Zimbabwe’s government media commission for its recent attack on the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), claiming the union has been spreading anti-government propaganda.

The Chairman of Zimbabwe’s Media and Information Commission (MIC), Tafataona Mahoso, has requested the Ministry of Information investigate the activities of the ZUJ, which he accuses of being part of a lobby group to discredit the government.

“We firmly condemn these totally false allegations,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We call on the Ministry of Information of Zimbwabe to take no part in the MIC campaign to muzzle press freedom organisations and to recall that the true role of the MIC is to ensure press freedom in Zimbabwe, not stifle it with investigations like this one.”

These charges are the latest to plague the media and media support groups in Zimbabwe. Since 2001, journalists have been imprisoned, four independent newspapers closed and foreign correspondents expelled as the government of Robert Mugabe has tried to exercise complete government control over the press in his country.

In the 1st of October edition of The Sunday Mail newspaper, Mahoso alleged that the ZUJ leadership has been “clandestinely peddling anti-Government propaganda to entice foreign donor agencies into funding the organisation’s activities.” Mahoso added that one of the ZUJ’s chairmen, Nunurai Jena, was spreading false reports about human rights abuses to foreign media houses.

“All these accusations are unfounded,” Foster Dongozi, ZUJ Secretary General, told the IFJ. “Our union is not involved in any campaign against the government. Our activities are advertised and we even invite the MIC, Members of Parliament and government officials to attend them. They all know that we are working on setting up an independent media regulatory body, the Voluntary Media Council, and the reform of controversial media laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).”

Besides the ZUJ, the two other members of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) were recently attacked by the MIC. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Zimbabwe and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) were accused, together with the ZUJ, of holding clandestine meetings to destabilise the regime.

Separately, on Tuesday, 3 October, police officers raided the Harare office of the London-based newspaper The Zimbabwean. The raid was prompted by an article published last week alleging corruption in the Zimbabwean police force.

“We express our solidarity with the journalists of The Zimbabwean, to the members of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe and all the journalists of the country,” the IFJ’s Baglo said. “Despite this harassment, they have to keep up the fight for press freedom in the country.”

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries