By Bulawayo Correspondent
GOVERNMENT says Zimbabwean journalists are safe despite glaring evidence involving the assault of media practitioners at political rallies and gatherings.
Of late, Zimbabwe has witnessed a resurgence of cases involving the assault of journalists at public gatherings.
As the country moves towards the 2023 general elections, the Media Institute of Southern Africa ( MISA) has predicted a further increase in the assault and harassment of media practitioners if corrective measures are not taken.
However, speaking at a belated International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (IDEI) commemorations in Victoria Falls Friday, Information ,Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa suggested that claims of impunity against journalists in the country are far-fetched.
“As a country, we have made the safety of journalists an issue of high priority, hence our enactment of the freedom of information act to provide both the media and the public legislative protection in their quest to access information,” she said.
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“We have taken note of a few isolated reported cases of journalists being harassed at some political rallies and we have rebuked the political parties that allow their supporters to violate the rights of journalists and their freedom to access stories.
“Our mandate is to protect freedom of expression, the safety of journalists, media workers and promote media development to advance the knowledge and understanding of our people and communities,” said the minister.
Interestingly, the government has not issued a single statement condemning incidents of violence against journalists by suspected ruling Zanu PF party activists, while the ministry has been quick to publicly condemn violence perceived to have been perpetrated by the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change.
Mutsvangwa said her ministry has also adopted an open door policy that allows journalists to call in anytime and access information.
The minister also claimed that the fact that no Zimbabwean journalist has been killed in line of duty means that the government protects journalists.
“Whilst we mourn the death of about 300 journalists since the advent of the Second Republic, we are relieved and proud that none of such a death was in Zimbabwe. That record testifies to our Government’s awareness and attitude to the need to inculcate a culture that embraces freedom of the media and abhors impunity,” added the minister.
Several journalists from the region are attending the two day meeting which was organised by MISA in conjunction with International Media support (IMS) and Media Monitors.