Officials in parliament said the office of the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma and the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo have for the past two days been inundated with complaints from journalists demanding a probe into the mayhem inside and outside the august house on Saturday.
Four journalists, including two photographers, were assaulted as they prepared to cover the proceedings of the joint committee of the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator for Hwange Central, Brian Nkiwane was also assaulted for allegedly failing to sing the national anthem.
Zvoma, the clerk of parliament, said they had been briefed about the incident and were still receiving reports about the disturbances.
“The issue has been brought to our attention,” he said. “The media will be advised accordingly,” he said.
But media watch-dogs on Tuesday piled pressure on parliament and the police to get to the bottom of the assault of journalists and the (MDC) legislator.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa -Zimbabwe (MISA) condemned the assaults in a statement on Tuesday, calling upon the police to deal with this lawlessness and arrest any members of the pubic bent on violating the media’s freedom to access information and the citizens’ right to freedom of expression and association.
“The fact that the attacks happened at Parliament Building with an MP reportedly being assaulted under the police’s watch speaks volumes about these acts of impunity that place the lives of journalists and innocent citizens at great risk,” read part of the statement.
“This lawlessness is very worrying indeed given that the Parliament of Zimbabwe is not only a high security zone but is also supposed to be the citadel of civility and permissiveness of diverse views as evidenced by the multi-party composition of both the House of Assembly and the Senate,” it added.
The fact that none of the assailants were arrested gave the culprits free reign and endangered the lives of Zimbabwean journalists especially those working for the private press as their safety and security cannot be guaranteed by the police as they conduct their lawful professional duties throughout the country, said Misa-Zimbabwe.
The media watch-dog said the three principals to the inclusive government, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Professor Arthur Mutambara and their respective political parties, should demand explanations from the police on what transpired for purposes of accounting for the culprits who should face the full wrath of the law.