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Govt committed to the protection of journalists

By Tichaona Kurewa

Government says it is committed to protecting and guaranteeing a safe working environment for journalists for them contribute significantly to the attainment of Vision 2030 through information provision.

Speaking at a belated commemorations of the tenth anniversary of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) in Victoria Falls this Friday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa highlighted that the Second Republic values the work of media practitioners and called for non-violence against media personnel ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.

Journalists from more than fifteen African countries are attending the commemorations.

“Let me reiterate that the Government of Zimbabwe, under the able leadership of His Excellency, President E.D. Mnangagwa, is committed to providing a safe operating media environment and to guaranteeing freedom of the press to ensure that media practitioners execute their duties freely for the attainment of Vision 2030. And to this end Zimbabwe declared journalists an essential service at the height of COVID-19 hard lockdowns. We also prioritized the COVID-19 vaccination of journalists who were inoculated together with frontline health workers,” said Honourable Mutsvangwa.

UNESCO representatives implored all stakeholders to double efforts to protect journalists.

“Therefore, on this anniversary, we must renew our commitment to protecting journalists everywhere, all the time. This means in situations of conflict and crisis, of course, and UNESCO is supporting journalists in Ukraine and Afghanistan, for instance. It also means in times of peace – for that is when most journalists have been killed in recent years.

“Lastly, we must step up our efforts online, where new forms of violence have emerged, especially towards women – three in four women journalists have experienced online harassment according to UNESCO data,” said Professor Lidia Brito, UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) noted that the day gives stakeholders, in their diversity, an opportunity to introspect and meaningfully contribute to the mechanisms that put in place safety nets for the press as the attack on media personnel are on an increase in the region.

A representative of MISA, Father Barnabas Simatende said, “In Southern Africa, in 2020, Mozambican journalist Ibrahimo Mbaruco disappeared and to date, no one has been held accountable for his disappearance. Tanzanian journalist, Azuro Gwanda, has now been presumed dead. He went missing in 2017. In Lesotho, journalist Lloyd Mutungamiri was seriously injured when suspected military hitmen shot him and was transferred to South Africa for medical attention in 2016.

“Further, in 2020, journalist Ntsoaki Motaung, was shot by members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), during a youth protest dubbed #BachaShutDown. In Eswatini, two journalists, Andile Langwenya, and Wonderboy Dlamini, were hospitalized after they were allegedly shot at by security services during protests in 2021.”

The Second Republic has made the safety of journalists an issue of high priority through the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act to provide both the media and the public legislative protection in their quest to access information, declaring journalists an essential service at the height of COVID-19 hard lockdowns, prioritisation of the COVID-19 vaccination of journalists and other intervention.

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