Journalists barred from going to work


Helen Kadirire

MEDIA rights advocacy groups yesterday expressed concern over the barring of journalists from getting into Harare’s central business district by security agents enforcing coronavirus lockdown measures.

Several journalists were reportedly denied access into town despite producing their Zimbabwe Media Commission-issued press cards at most checkpoints in the capital.

This is despite the High Court recently ruling that the media is part of essential services after the government was taken to court by the Media Institute of South Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe soon after the country introduced the first 21-day national lockdown.

The government also gazetted a statutory instrument confirming the media as an essential service.
Misa executive director Tabani Moyo yesterday said it was unfortunate that journalists were being denied their right to work.

“Firstly, the Constitution of the country provides that journalists should have unfettered access to their workplaces after producing their cards.

“Secondly, the lockdown recognises journalists offer an essential service… and thirdly, the courts themselves pronounced that the police and uniformed forces should not interfere with journalists while they are executing their work,” Moyo said.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said the move by the police and uniformed forces was unacceptable.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi yesterday disputed the claims and insisted the media would not be hindered from their work.

He said police officers were aware of the work of journalists, including the law which states that they were an essential service.

“If any journalist is not allowed to get into town or blocked from their work, they should immediately get in touch with our office or the district police to rectify any problem,” Nyathi said.

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