Police in Masvingo today dispersed several newspaper vendors and also arrested four, being 3 females and 1 male at around 12:00hrs for violating SI 83 of 2020 which seeks to enforce the Presidential directive for a national lockdown. Through our advocacy chairperson for Masvingo, Passmore Kuzipa, we have been advised that the arrested persons are currently detained at Masvingo Central Police Station. The four were arrested at Belmont Press, the main selling point for newspapers in Masvingo, where all the provincial and national newspapers are sold.
Section 4(1)(a)(ii) of the Statutory Instrument highlights that every person is confined to their home except if the individual is employed in an essential service, to go to and from his or her place of employment and go about the business of that essential service. It should be noted that in terms of Section 2 of the same provisions, essential services include communication and telecommunication services.
As such newspapers, radio, television, internet are defined as communication services as they facilitate citizens’ access to information. Street vendors together with shops and agents are part of the main players in information dissemination in general and newspaper distribution in particular. The disruption of this service will therefore affect the newspaper companies who will have no reason to print if the distributors are not allowed to continue with their work. These vendors should thus be allowed to continue with their provision of essential service as access to information by the citizens is a constitutionally entrenched right through section 61 of the Constitution.
MISA Zimbabwe has been advised that these vendors were selling at their designated points as approved by the local authorities thus in no way committing an offence. Being cognizant of the seriousness of the Covid 19 pandemic, MISA Zimbabwe encourages the industry players to exercise caution and social distancing while doing their business.
MISA Zimbabwe therefore reiterates its appeal to government through its uniformed forces to cooperate with players in the media and communication industry particularly in the protection and promotion of rights.
MISA Zimbabwe’s Media Lawyers Network member, Martin Mureri has been dispatched to the police station accompanied by the provincial chairperson, Passmore Kuzipa.
Source: MISA Zimbabwe