“I am a journalist and I hear much about the talk of journalists and the freedom of the media. I am one of those people who have been put on sanctions and you have just wished us a happy media freedom day ….Since you are the advocates of media freedom, is it not in contravention of those policies which you advocate for if you put journalists on sanctions?” queried ZBC’s Makwanya at a media conference in Harare.
Makwanya together with her colleague, Rueben Barwe, were placed on sanctions by the EU because of their association with Zanu (PF) a party whose propaganda they propagate through the state controlled broadcasting station.
In response, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Adol Dell Ariccia, said journalists were placed on sanctions because of how they promoted violence and human rights abuses.
“Some journalists were included on the sanctions list because of the role they played presenting news in a specific period that was considered as inciting hate and violence. I can tell you that there is a permanent revision of that list. Frankly speaking I have been here for the past eight months and we have started working seriously to see that indeed some of the people who are on the list should they continue to be there or not and it’s a continuous process..
“So in short I take your point that including journalists on the list of people who are on EU restrictions could be considered as a violation of the freedom of the press but the reason was not that because they are journalists but because of what they were publishing or saying in their work.”
Last week Rueben Barwe was denied a visa to travel to the Vatican to cover the beatification ceremony of John Paul 11.
He and Makwanya are regarded as some of the chief propagandists of the ruling party and they are regularly denied visas to travel to Europe and the USA. The two are among journalists and executives in public media companies that have been put on the EU and US sanctions lists.
President Mugabe who travelled to the Vatican said he was shocked and surprised by the denial of the visa to Barwe.