Despite the new Constitution signed in March stating clear that freedom of expression should be respected, journalists in the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe are still being targeted, as pre-election tension and fever mount.
In four different cases this month, reporters have been attacked apparently in connection with their coverage of the country’s two major political parties, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said yesterday.
In one such attack, on June 14 three masked assailants briefly abducted freelance journalist Paul Pindani from his home in Chinhoyi in north central Mashonaland West province and beat him up, CPJ said, adding that Pindani had been hospitalised with injuries that included a broken arm and bruises.
“We urge the leaders of all political parties to insist on discipline and restraint from their members and to stop targeting journalists,” CPJ Africa program coordinator Sue Valentine said yesterday.
Zimbabwe, a country ruled with iron-fist by veteran dictator Robert Mugabe for over 30 years, will vote in July this year.
But Mugabe and his ZANU-PF thugs have unleashed a violent campaign of intimidation and fear against members and supporters of opposition political parties, and critical media.
“Zimbabweans have a right to receive information about the political, social, and economic conditions in which they live, and to make informed decisions about who their next government should be,” Valentine said.
Mugabe (89), born on 21 February 1924, is ZANU-PF presidential candidate, amid deep divisions within the party about yet another term.
PM Morgan Tsvangirai has threatened to boycott the elections if they were held in July 31 as set by the court. Like anywhere in Africa, most magistrates and judges in Zimbabwe are active members of the ruling party, and reportedly receive government ‘donations’, time to time, including land and cash.
Tsvangirai, who still wants elections to be held in October 31, said: “We need media reforms, we want a partial and non-partisan state media and a security sector which is professional and that does not campaign for any political party. ”
The prime minisiter made these threats early this month in Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, while addressing leaders and representatives of civic organisations.
Photo: Zim leader Robert Mugabe, Credit: The Telegraph.co.uk