Zimbabwe Online Content Creators (ZOCC) has issued a no holds barred interview to TechnoMag where it categorically condemned the recent harassment of journalists by the police.
ZOCC President Toneo Rutsito earlier on bemoaned the development saying,
“Journalism is not a crime, the deployed police officers criminalized the act of journalism, this is sad and deplorable, they knew very well that they were arresting journalists and continued to do so and detained them illegally only to release them without charge It’s another sad day in journalism”
In a statement issued yesterday ZOCC further said, it
”deplores the illegal harassment and detention of its members, that occurred today the 30th of September 2021 around 10 am. The 9 journalists were illegally arrested and detained at the Harare Central Police station on a dragnet swoop, only to be released after 3hours, without any charges leveled against them.”
The online content creators organization did not mince their words further stating, ” This is in clear violation of not only the practice of journalism but also of basic human rights where one must be perceived innocent until proven guilty. The detained 9 journalists were Adrian Maratu, Tongai Mwenje, Leo Munhede, Thomas Madhuku, Nyashadzashe Ndoro, Robert Tapfumaneyi, Marshal Bwanya, Gaddaffi Wells and Tinashe Muringai.”
The journalist’s organization made it pot and Clara that journalism is not a questionable profession and must not be hindered.The organization added, ”The journalists were ready to cover the ZEC provincial meeting and were only arrested after attempting to cover a flash demo by MDC Alliance members at the ZEC offices. This was done with obvious intent to muzzle and threaten press as they carry their daily mandate.”
The journalists breathed fire on the disregard of the rule of law by the police who see themselves as above the law by harassing scribes merely practicing their profession adding that,”The arresting detail, plain-clothed and uniformed security agents took no regard of the journalists, even after they had clearly identified themselves, they however allegedly threatened them with unspecified action.”
ZOOC further in no uncertain terms called for an end to this criminal behavior by the police force, saying ”The move was deliberately intended to deter coverage of political events in Zimbabwe, a sad repeat of what transpired at Impala car rental last year resulting in assault and robbery against journalists. Instead of protecting journalists who have a constitutional mandate as the 4th estate, it is rather regrettable and unfortunate that the police were once again caught on the wrong side of the law. ”
ZOCC however was grateful to the efforts by the police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi who made sure the scribes were released and allowed to do their job freely stating, ”While we acknowledge the swift interference by Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi to secure their release, after getting assistance from media lawyer Chris Mhike and the Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights, we strongly condemn the unnecessary incidence which was surely not inevitable.”
The content creators urged the government and the police to hence follow the example set by the AssComm adding that, ”Such actions are retrogressive and regrettable as they only serve to tarnish the image of the nation. We demand that the national security officers respect and allow our media players to practice their constitutional mandate without any undue interference, fear, or intimidation and that stern action must be taken against offending officers.”
”Journalism is not a crime! Our journalists are competent professionals and must be treated as such,”said the content creators body.