ZANU PF officials were yesterday accused of attempting to muzzle the Press after they took turns to attack the media for reporting on a possible COVID-19 case in Chiredzi.
By Garikai Mafirakureva
This was after several media houses reported the case of a woman whose corpse was deserted by nurses at Chiredzi District Hospital, suspecting that she might have succumbed to COVID-19.
The nurses argued that they did not have protective clothing to handle the body.
The 30-year-old woman from Mkwasine Estates reportedly arrived at the hospital on Tuesday suffering from respiratory problems.
She later died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
However, this did not go down well with Zanu PF politicians, who wanted to suppress that information.
All hell broke loose when Zanu PF Masvingo provincial spokesperson Ronald Ndava decided to turn a meeting that was held at Chiredzi General Hospital to review the 21-day national lockdown compliance and to assess the COVID-19 isolation centre into a Zanu PF rally.
He told the gathering that journalists who wrote that there was a suspected case of COVD-19 at Chiredzi General Hospital were bent on causing despondency.
When later confronted by journalists to clarify his rant, Ndava said curtly: “I only get involved when my party, which is in government, is attacked as rogue and trying to suppress information.”
Not to be outdone, Chiredzi North MP Roy Bhila (Zanu PF) suggested that journalists should not be allowed to report on COVD-19 because they would mislead people.
“We have lost trust in these journalists. They are writing that we have a suspected COVID-19 case here in Chiredzi. Why should they be allowed to come here? If they cannot write, they should not come here. People are now living in fear,” he said.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira, who is also Zanu PF provincial chairperson, weighed in, saying to write that there was a suspected COVID-19 case in Chiredzi would be like wishing people dead.
“If one wishes someone or people to die, I don’t know what kind of a person is that. Our offices are open, come and ask what you want and we will tell you what to write,” he said.
Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe national chairperson Golden Maunganidze lamented the efforts to gag the media and said this was the time to join hands in fighting the spread of coronavirus, and not for personal grudges.
“On behalf of Misa Zimbabwe, I would like to remind government officials and politicians that the media is providing essential services and that must be respected. Our main enemy at the moment is COVID-19 not journalists,” he said, adding that journalists should be allowed to do their work without intimidation.