Worldwide, journalists commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
Scribes in Masvingo had applied to the police for permission to march from Croco Motors garage to the Civic Centre. However, their application was turned down by police citing ‘security’ reasons. In Bulawayo journalists were told by police that all all public processions and demonstrations had been suspended until after the World Soccer Cup to be held in South Africa next month.
In Masvingo Chief Superintendent Joseph Nyapfuri wrote a letter to the MISA chairman Energy Bara saying the march could not be held because of security reasons.
However, it was suspected that the march had been banned because Vice President John Nkomo was having a rally in Mwenezi district here.
“This is a sad development which shows that media freedom in the country is yet to come. This was intended to be a peaceful professional march. How could they stop us from expressing our views? I am actually baffled,” said Bara.
The march in Bulawayo was intended for Saturday. It had been jointly organised by journalists under the banner of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), MISA and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS).
“We applied for police clearance last week to hold a belated a peaceful procession in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day but the police said they are under instructions not to issue clearances for any public demonstrations and processions until the World Cup in South Africa is over,” said Henry Masuku, the National Coordinator of the ZACRAS.
Masuku said the journalists in Bulawayo could not commemorate the day on May 3 as the day was a working day and most journalists were engaged.
“Right now we are in a fix because of the ban. We had already paid for a public address system and printed T-shirts for this important occasion. The police’s argument that they want to maintain peace and stability in the country ahead of the World Soccer Cup does not hold any water because this is a day celebrated everywhere in the world by journalists,” said Masuku.
When reached for comment the Co- Minister of Home Affairs Giles Kembo Mohadi said: “I am attending a meeting.”
The other Co- Minister Giles Mutseyekwa’s mobile phone was nor reachable.