MISA-Zimbabwe leaders Cris Chinaka and Kelvin Jakachira on 12 September 2016 wrote a letter to Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri requesting a meeting over “deepening conflict” between police and media practitioners.
Chinaka and Jakachira, who serve as MISA-Zimbabwe’s Trust Board chairperson and acting chairperson of the National Governing Council, respectively, said the request for the meeting follows an increase in the number of journalists arrested or assaulted by the police while covering protests by opposition activists and members of various groupings.
“It is indeed the duty of journalists to cover and report issues and all events in the country, including demonstrations,” part of the letter reads.
“While we do not seek to teach the police on how to do their job in maintaining law and order, we believe that that responsibility also includes ensuring the safety and security of journalists who will be dutifully executing their mandate.”
Chinaka and Jakachira said given the critical role of journalists and the police, there is need for a cordial working relationship to ensure the two essential sectors effectively execute their duties in the interest of the country.
“In fact, it is the same call of duty that the police find themselves answering to during protests that journalists also have to respond to. This is why they find themselves in the streets, precisely to cover the protests as they unravel,” reads the letter.
“Nothing else drives them, but to get the story for the benefit of the general public and indeed policy makers who also use news reports to make informed decisions in the formulation of policies.”
The proposed meeting is aimed at ensuring the police and journalists conduct their work without fear and suspicion of each other.