The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) is concerned by the alarming escalation of attacks against journalists by members of the ZANU PF and MDC-T, the main partners in Zimbabwean coalition government.
The FAJ says that some senior politicians in both parties are using inflammatory language which is likely to expose journalists to violence. The Federation cites the comments by Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who recently verbally abused freelance journalist Nkosana Dlamini at a press conference held at the party's headquarters, Harvest House, recently. Chamisa reportedly accused Dlamini of ‘bringing Zanu PF propaganda to Harvest House', after the journalist had asked Prime Minister Tsvangirai a question.
Dlamini has indicated in his letter of complaint to his Union, The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), a FAJ affiliate, that he considered the politician's attitude as "harassment".
"We are worried about the safety of our affiliate's members, especially when senior party officials appear to incite their supporters to attack journalists," said Omar Faruk Osman, FAJ President.
A few days after the incident, Xolisani Ncube, a journalist with The Daily News was assaulted outside the MDC-T's offices and his camera was reportedly stolen by the party's supporters while on assignment.
Priviledge Musvanhiri, a freelance journalist, was beaten up and his recording equipment reportedly stolen by Zanu PF supporters in Harare. Musvanhiri was punched by Zanu PF supporters while Clarkson Mambo of New Ziana was manhandled by the same Zanu PF supporters.
"We strongly condemn the renewed attacks against journalists and demand that the MDC-T's leadership guarantee the safety of journalists at their press conferences and their forth coming congress," added Faruk. "We also urge the Zanu PF leadership to warn its supporters to desist from attacking journalists. Zanu PF must provide protection to journalists while on assignment at their functions or anywhere else".
ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi and FAJ Vice President said: "As we approach the referendum and the elections, journalists will become more vulnerable to attacks by politicians and party supporters". "We call on the two main political parties to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards t attacks on journalists or on any Zimbabwean citizen."
For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents over 50,000 journalists in 38 countries in Africa