Masvingo Police Assistant Commissioner threatens journalists over news column

The officer Commanding Masvingo Province, Assistant Commissioner (AC) Tawoneyi Nyazema threatened two senior journalists in Masvingo over a news column in Masvingo provincial newspaper, TellZim News.

The journalists, Golden Maunganidze and Passmore Kuzipa, who are director and editor of TellZim News, were invited to Masvingo Central Police by the police spokesperson Charity Mazula for what seemed to be a routine engagement meeting between police and scribes. Upon arrival at the meeting, the Assistant Commissioner demanded to know the author of the newspaper’s satirical column – Mapombi Adonha (Things Fall Apart).

The duo however explained to the AC that it is unethical to disclose names of contributors to anonymous columns. The journalists told the police provincial boss that they were open to discussion if the police was not happy with certain stories. The AC then requested for their identification details before chasing them away in anger as he threatened both the journalists and newspaper with unspecified action.

The two journalists, then returned with the MISA Media Network Lawyer (MNL), Derick Charamba of Ndlovu and Hwacha Legal Practitioners seeking audience with Assistant Commissioner Nyazema, but both the lawyer and his clients were told off. Charamba reminded Nyazema that he was seeking audience with the police in his capacity as an officer of the court, but he would not relent.

MISA Zimbabwe Position

MISA Zimbabwe condemns the intimidation of journalists in the course of their professional duties. Aggrieved parties are urged to file their complaints with the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe instead of taking the law into their own hands. The Zimbabwe Media Commission is also available as a constitutional body if there are sections of the society that feels aggrieved.

It is of high concern in this case that the police refused to meet with an officer of the court who was representing the two journalists. We can only hope that the journalists or their media house are not going to be harassed given the behaviour exhibited by the Masvingo Police Assistant Commissioner.

As noted in our various statements, the media is not the enemy here, we must all put hands on the deck in fighting the deadly corona virus. We condemn the actions by the police in this instance and call upon the law enforcement agency to safeguard the constitution of Zimbabwe which guarantees media freedom under section 61.

Maunganidze, who is also the MISA Zimbabwe chairperson tried in vain to express the point that media stakeholders and the police have been engaging on the need to improve relations under the banner of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe.

MISA Zimbabwe staff is also on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty.

Source: MISA Zimbabwe