Zimbabwe: Government bars private media journalists from covering official event

Security officials barred private media journalists from covering an official event held in Chinhoyi city on 12 June that the president Emmerson Mnangagwa was attending. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), in condemning the ban and urges the authorities to ensure access for all journalists to official events.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Credits: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP

12 journalists reported to the ZUJ Head Office in Harare that they had been barred from attending the event.

They claimed that the President’s security guards had a hostile attitude towards them and accused the journalists of arriving late to the event. The journalists said they arrived at the venue well before the event started.

Efforts made by the Mashonaland West ZUJ provincial secretary Paul Pindani to secure access to the event for private media journalists were unsuccessful and only state-controlled media organisations were allowed to cover the event.

The union announced it would seek to engage with the authorities to put an end to these practices.

ZUJ's Secretary-General, Foster Dongozi said the incident was ‘disgraceful and very unfortunate’ and claimed that the ban violated media freedom laws.

By turning away journalists from covering a State event, the President’s security team deprived media workers an opportunity to generate income for their families. The most affected would be freelance and community media  journalists, who have already suffered a big impact on their income due to the Covid-19 crisis”, Dongozi added.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Banning journalists from doing their work is unacceptable and goes against any effort by the government towards a more inclusive and democratic Zimbabwe. We deplore this act by the Presidential security officials and urge the president to guarantee journalists’ freedom to work and the citizens’ right to be informed”.

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