via Minister bans media, grabs Tk Mukosi goods NewZimbabwe 19/05/2014
MASVINGO Provincial Affairs Minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, has banned the country’s “scandalous” media from visiting the Tokwe-Mukosi flood disaster victims, accusing the press of falsifying information on the plight of the troubled villagers.
Bhasikiti told a group of Harare-based journalists at the weekend that they were not welcome to Chingwizi camp which has provided temporary shelter to affected villagers.
“We are getting journalists becoming so scandalous and mischievous to the extent of even saying the whole flooding of Tokwe-Mukosi was artificial … that (the disaster) was a creation of government,” Bhasikiti told the scribes who had visited his offices on their way to Chingwizi.
He continued: “If we have such journalists who can say anything, who can manufacture and publicise anything for reasons best known to themselves l think that we would be losing the focus and thrust of good journalism.”
Nearly 3,000 families were evacuated from the disaster area in February this year after heavy flooding caused by the partial collapse of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam wall washed away their homes, crops and other valuables.
The villagers have since been accommodated at the crowded Chingwizi holding camp, the majority refusing relocation to new plots until government makes good promises to compensate.
Their dire plight, reported across the world, has been characterised by sheer desperation and a feeling of neglect by a government that has failed to meet cash pledges offered as pay-off for losing their homes.
But last Friday, an attempt to visit the camp by a group of journalists from five mainstream media elicited strong resentment from Bhasikiti.
The journalists, among them reporters from the ZBC, were accompanied by a group of children who had raised some donations which they intended to donate to kids at Chingwizi.
A local NGO, the Zimbabwe National Council for Welfare of Children, was also part of the group which included children from ZBC’s Kidznet unit.
During the stopover at his provincial offices, Bhasikiti grabbed the donations, insisting he would deliver them himself as provincial head.
He said the journalists and the rest of the group must be content with leaving the donated goods at his provincial offices where they would be added to other donated goods awaiting delivery to Chingwizi.
“It touches me so much that l would want to physically go and hand them over and tell the children that it’s coming from your fellow children who were quite moved and touched by your plight.
“So please as you receive this, be responsible children because we have a group of responsible children out there who care about you. So l have to go and deliver.”
Asked if the ban also involved journalists from the generally pro-government ZBC, Bhasikiti said: “You came as a team of journalist so there was no need of singling out any because that will not be proper.
“You are working as a team and you planned as a team … l respond to you in the same manner. I’m saying your team cannot carry out your intention because we have had enough of misleading the international community, the nation and other well-wishers.”
Bhasikiti said the story of Tokwe-Mukosi had been reported enough adding any journalist who felt they had something new to say should go through his provincial office’s press department which would facilitate a guided tour of the camp.
Last month he barred former Prime Minister and opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from visiting the camp where he also intended to donate a few goods.