The recent attack on journalists covering demonstrations in Harare raises a lot of concern and must be condemned by all right-thinking Zimbabweans and other stakeholders.
Source: We expect better from the police – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 6, 2016
While we welcome Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe’s call for the protection of media practitioners doing their work, we feel he needs to do more.
That means he should engage his counterparts in government to ensure they understand the role of the media in a democracy. The idea of a security apparatus acting as though Zimbabwe is a police State is unacceptable, and must just stop for progress’ sake.
Zimbabweans would be happy if the police could take heed of Mushohwe’s words and reconsider their treatment of media personnel. Out of duty, Mushohwe stressed that he did not expect that innocent people should be beaten and journalists harassed — including those authorised to carry out a protest march because Zimbabwe is a law-abiding country.
Yet, for too long journalists, who are legally accredited to do their job, have been harassed left, right and centre by State security apparatuses with no clue about the significance of the work that journalists do.
Such harassment by the police buttresses the argument that Zimbabwe is a repressive State and that the Zanu PF administration has outlived its usefulness.
We believe that using brute force against citizens of the country can never solve any problem even though it appears it has now become the norm especially with the national leadership.
The reckless manner in which the police descended heavily on journalists covering an anti-bond notes protest in Harare on Wednesday was uncalled for, particularly because these were largely peaceful protests. Hell only broke loose when the police fired teargas on peaceful marchers.
This is a slap in the face of the professionalism that the police always boast of, but which is rarely seen on the ground.
In fact, history has shown that in cases where people have died or been injured during demonstrations, it was only after the police had shown recklessness by being unnecessarily heavy-handed.
Journalists all over the world have a mandate to bring news to the people, but in this country, the police almost always make sure this doesn’t happen by indiscriminately attacking journalists as if the police officers themselves are zombies that can’t distinguish between trouble causers and professionals executing their duties.
We expect better from the police. And we know they can do better if they choose to do their work like the professionals they claim to be.
We wonder why journalists and innocent people had to suffer the consequences of inhaling tearsgas recklessly thrown at them during a protest march that had been okayed by the courts.
So, whose laws were they enforcing by harassing those given the green light to peacefully protest by the courts? The police must stop all this paranoia against the citizenry.