Last week Tsvangirai who was addressing a public meeting organised by Southern Africa Political Economy Series in Harare described journalists from the public media as shallow minded. Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu last week also directly attacked a Daily news reporter, Chengetai Zvauya, saying he was acting as a mouth piece of imperialists.
In a statement to it members on Tuesday ZUJ said these developments were exposing journalists to attacks by political parties’ supporters.
“We are concerned that some of the public officials implicated in the use of intolerant language with potential to undermine or demean journalists are Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose statements implied that colleagues working in the public media are ‘shallow’.
ZUJ acknowledged that journalists needed to improve on professional and ethical conduct because for several years the profession had been in the doldrums.
However the use of terms such as ‘shallow’ in reference to practitioners cannot be tolerated especially in a volatile political environment such as ours.
This is particularly so, when such statements are attributed to the Prime Minister, who for many years fought for the rights of workers,” ZUJ said.
ZUJ also condemned Mines and Mining minister for his continued traumatisation of the Daily News reporters.
“ZUJ is equally appalled by statements attributed to Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu who singled out the Daily News while appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Mines and Energy.”
“Allegations that colleagues working at the Daily News were working with the country’s detractors are unacceptable and only serve to put journalists at risk. The trauma that has been visited upon journalists at the Daily News through bombings and closure is known to many.”
ZUJ said the minister should choose his words carefully as they have serious implications on the safety of journalists in an environment where there is heightened talk of a referendum and elections in the near future.
ZUJ also noted with concern and condemned reports that journalists, Xolisani Ncube of the Daily News was allegedly told by Harare Town Clerk, Tendai Mahachi that “I will deal with you,” and Daily News Entertainment editor, Maxwell Sibanda who was recently threatened with death by musician, Andy Brown in full view of other journalists.
“While all this was going on, journalist, Mzwandile Ndlovu was arrested in Hwange. These developments are happening after ZUJ President Dumisani Sibanda was arrested late in 2010 with another, journalist, Nqobani Ndlovu and Nevanji Madanhire being persecuted. News Day has also been a victim of targeted attacks through interrogations and a suspicious violation.
Meanwhile Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) has opposed the move to form a statutory media council by the ZMC to recognise the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), a body that promotes a professional and free media environment through voluntary self-regulation of the media.
Partners in MAZ include ZUJ, the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, the VMCZ, among others media stakeholders.
This follows an invitation by the ZMC to Media Alliance of Zimbabwe partners to a meeting held on Tuesday to consult on the formation of a statutory media council, according to provisions in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
“MAZ cannot be part of this engagement that creates a media council according to terms of AIPPA. The law allows the council to jail journalists, ban and close down media operations, as has happened in the past,” MAZ said in a statement distributed by its coordinator,” Patience Zirima.
MAZ urged the Commission instead, to campaign for the repeal of AIPPA as envisaged by resolutions of the government’s media stakeholders’ conference held in Kariba in May 2009.