By Farai Maposa
Media Centre Zimbabwe director Ernest Mudzengi has underscored the importance of citizen journalism’s role in safe guarding citizens against human rights abuses.
He was speaking at a workshop on the use of social media in effecting citizen journalism on Thursday.
“Citizen journalism is vital in ensuring that people are able to protect their rights and shape how their news will be written,” said Mudzengi who also sits on the Radio Voice of the People (VOP) board of trustees.
An Iinformation Communication Ttechnologies (ICTs) expert, Admire Mare who was conducting the training on the use of social media echoed Mudzengi’s sentiments and said it is vital for citizens to engage on platforms that will make their stories be heard better.
“What people should know is that to make sure there is hype on the issues happening they must be carful in choosing platforms that are more accessible to many people, ”said Mare.
The Mare conducted lessons on how to use platforms like facebook, whatsap, You Tube, Blogs and twitter and their merits and shortfalls when one wants to convey messages.
Some of the participants who are ordinary citizens came from Epworth and Mbare had shocking revelations of child prostitution and drug abuse that have gone unreported in the mainstream media .
“There is a place called ‘PaBooster’ where children as young as eleven are soliciting for clients sometimes at the behest of their own parents. We also know of a lady who is running a brothel and employing young girls,” said a woman who only identified herself Mai Linda.
Another Mbare resident who attended said apart from prostitution her area is infested with drug abuse owing to lack of employment.
“Youths have no jobs and they have resorted to taking drugs ,”said Admire Machesa.
The participants said now that they have been trained on the use of social media in citizen journalism they will use the ‘effective’ tool to make sure they safeguard their human rights like access to clean water, right to education and shelter among other basic human rights.
The Media Centre is a civil society organisation which is advocating for communities to exercise their right to the freedom of expression, association and access to information using various platforms and channels including, but not limited to information communication technologies (ICTs), public meetings and such other forums that may be relevant to the advancement of their socio-economic status.The centre is also a very important and affordable facility for journalists, specially recent graduates and freelancers.