By Clayton Shereni, Masvingo Correspondent
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has called upon political parties and law enforcement agemcies to ensure the safety of media practitioners who are carrying out their journalistic duties during election campaigns.
Election mood is gathering momentum in the country and political parties are holding rallies, with campaigns now in full swing.
In previous election periods, journalists have been verbally and physically abused while some have had their gadgets confiscated or damaged by rowdy supporters during rallies.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, MISA Regional Chairperson Golden Maunganidze pleaded with political actors to provide a safe and convenient environment for journalists in the run up to the March 26 by-elections.
“As MISA we urge those who are active in politics and those who are vying for positions in the upcoming by-elections to value and respect journalists as they do their job. In previous election periods, journalists have been harassed in line of duty and we condemn it, journalists should be given time to do their job without fear of being harassed,” Maunganidze said.
He also said: “We usually see female journalists falling victim and being told all sorts of bad words which will make them shun covering public events.”
Maunganidze, however, called upon media practitioners to uphold professional standards when undertaking their duties to protect their reputation and avoid being political activists.
“I would also want to encourage media practitioners to be professional and not to be political activists but, they should report fairly and continue to uphold the ethical standards of our profession so that they remain relevant and respected,” said Maunganidze.
He further implored the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to swiftly address and coordinate the accreditation of journalists who are still using previous year’s accreditation cards.
“We are urging ZMC to fast-track issues of delayed accreditation because it has been previously used to sanitize the harassment of journalists. March is around the corner and we want updated press cards, so that there won’t be anything which catalyzes harassment of journalists,” he added.
MISA has for long valued the safety of journalists especially during periods where there are rising political tensions.
The organization has recently written to ZBC TV, pleading with the public broadcaster to give fair coverage to political parties as we approach the March 26 by-election.