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Mnangagwa Blasted For Private Media Snub

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MEDIA organisations Friday expressed concern at the barring of the private media from covering Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Press conference on Thursday, where he was responding to a damning statement issued by his counterpart, Phelekezela Mphoko.

Local and international journalists had gathered at Mnangagwa’s Justice ministry offices located at the New Government Complex, on Thursday night, but his officers only handpicked those from the State media.

“Particularly disconcerting is the fact that the Press conference was called by Mnangagwa in his official capacity as Vice-President of the country and not as a private citizen.

This meant that he waived the right to be selective on who covers or does not cover the event,” Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe said in a statement yesterday.

“Also of concern is the fact that this action by the presidium might possibly set a very dangerous precedent, where such attitudes may cascade down to other government officials ,who may, in future, toe the same line, effectively heightening the levels of media polarisation.”

Misa said Mnangagwa’s actions contravened section 61 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that provides for freedom of expression and the media.

“More so, the Vice-President has a dual service as the minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, which requires of him to lead from the front in upholding the supreme law of the land,” said the media advocacy group.

“Misa Zimbabwe, therefore, calls on government officials to respect the Constitution and further reminds them that it is the role of the media to keep the nation informed, and it should discharge its duties without undue interference or hindrances.”

The Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (Zinef ) said Mnangagwa was a public official, who should be accessible to all media.

“By right, he should be accountable to the public, especially in light of the unprecedented impasse between the country’s two Vice-Presidents,” Zinef national coordinator, Njabulo Ncube said.

“It is on this account that Zinef calls upon the ministry of Justice and office of the Vice-President to apologise for trashing the Constitution. Zinef also calls upon the government and all public officials to respect the media at a time it is dealing with polarisation in the sector and the nation as a whole.”

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