The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, ZUJ, has condemned the government for preventing private media journalists from reporting on an official event where State President Emmerson Mnangagwa was a guest of honour.
The event was held in Chinhoyi Town, the provincial capital of Mashonaland West Province, 120 km North West of Harare on Friday.
President Mnangagwa was in the town to commission 40 public transport buses which were sourced from Belarus.
The journalists reported to the Union Head Offices in Harare that about 12 of them, including representatives from community newspapers were barred from attending the event.
They said the President’s hostile security operatives accused the journalists of arriving late for the event.
The journalists said they arrived at the venue way before proceedings started.
Only State controlled media organizations were allowed to cover the event.
Efforts by the Mashonaland West ZUJ provincial secretary Paul Pindani to have journalists cover the event fell on deaf ears.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, ZUJ, Secretary General, Foster Dongozi described the development as ‘disgraceful and very unfortunate’.
He said by turning away journalists from a State event, the President’s security team deprived the media practitioners an opportunity to generate incomes for their families.
The most affected would be freelance and community media journalists who have been badly affected by the impact of Covid19 on media sustainability.
He added that Mnangagwa’s security had in addition deprived millions of Zimbabweans, access to critical information on Government programs and violated provisions of media freedom laws.
“What happened on Friday in Chinhoyi is an absolute disgrace and those behind the banning of the journalists should be ashamed of themselves and ask for forgiveness from the journalists and the people of Zimbabwe,” said Dongozi.
“The President and his ministers have in the past spoken about an inclusive Zimbabwe in which journalists are free to work without hindrance and intimidation. So we wonder who is responsible for scoring the spectacular own goal in Chinhoyi. That was deplorable.”Dongozi said the Union would be engaging relevant authorities to find lasting solutions to the issue.