By Staff Reporter
TEN journalists covering a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) provincial consultative meeting in Harare and nine members of MDC Alliance were arrested Thursday outside the electoral body’s offices in central Harare.
The journalists were eventually released without charge following the intervention of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
They spent the better part of Thursday morning and afternoon detained at the Harare Central Police Station. The arrested journalists are; Leopold Munhende – NewZimbabwe.com; Thomas Madhuku – 263Chat, Nyashadzashe Ndoro – Nehanda Radio, Robert Tapfumaneyi – Sly Media, Desmond Munemo and Marshal Bwanya – ZimLive, Gaddaffi Wells and Adrian Maratu – NewsDay, and Tongai Mwenje and Tinashe Muringai – TechMag.
Also arrested at the ZEC offices were MDC youth leader and recalled councillor Denford Ngadziore and Chrispen Bvirwa including seven other youth members. They are still in police custody and are being represented by ZLHR.
A letter from within ZEC seeking clarification on how to deal with MDC Alliance was leaked on Tuesday.
About 40 MDC Alliance youth members were expected at the meeting before anti-riot officers besieged the ZEC provincial offices and arrested journalist and the nine MDC Alliance youths.
In a statement Thursday, the Young Journalists Association (YOJA) said it would sue the police officers who arrested the journalists in personal capacities to discouraging such uncouth behavior by other cops.
“Following the arrest and detention of 10 journalists in Harare on Thursday 30 September 2021, the Young Journalists Association (YOJA) will be lodging a formal complaint with the police,” reads part of the YOJA statement.
“The intention is part of a multi-pronged approach to end impunity within the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
“Previous efforts to do so through dialogue have been futile hence we hope suing implicated officers in their individual capacity and seeking termination of their services from the force might deter future aggressors.
“As other media support organisations engage in dialogue, we hope this approach will be welcome as another avenue for behaviour change.”
An unfortunate taxi driver, Tatenda Karichi was also arrested in the melee after the police mistook him for a journalist and was still in police cells by the time the reporters were released.