August 23: Bans against journos raise eyebrows


Zimbabwe’s media freedom lobby groups have asked the government to explain why it has denied scores of regional and international journalists from covering Wednesday’s harmonized elections.

Journalists from the Voice of America (VOA) Zimbabwe service Jonga Kandemiiri and Ntungamili Nkomo, Felix Dlangamandla of the Daily Maverick and South Africa-based journalist Jana Genth are among media practitioners that have been denied clearance to cover the elections.

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), a network of media professional associations and support organisations,  yesterday said it viewed the prohibition of the journalists as an affront to the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

“One of the key objectives of the Sadc principles and guidelines is to promote and enhance adherence to the principle of the rule of law hinged on respect for and supremacy of the constitution and “constitutional order in the political arrangements of the respective member state holding elections”.

“In Zimbabwe, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media is guaranteed under Section 61 of the constitution,” MAZ said in a statement.

“MAZ is, therefore, appealing to the Zimbabwean government to shed more light on the unsuccessful applications to cover elections by these local, regional and international journalists.

“When denying the media coverage of a general election, the government should give reasons why they are taking such a decision.

“By their nature, elections are a public national event that should receive wide coverage to ensure informed decision-making.”

Last week , Zimbabwe deported former Sabc journalist Chris Maroleng, who now heads Good Governance Africa (GGA).

Maroleng, who was deported alongside other GGA researchers, said they were in the country to carry out “vital field research on election conditions and challenges in Zimbabwe.”

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