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Journalists petition Prime Minister over harassments
November 26, 2010

Zimbabwean journalists and representative media organisations on 26 November 2010 petitioned Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai expressing grave concern with the increase in the number of cases involving the arrests and harassment of journalists.

The petition signed by more than 100 journalists and media practitioners was also copied to President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as the SADC appointed mediator to Zimbabwe. Zuma was expected in Harare on the same day for meetings with President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his deputy Professor Arthur Mutambara.

Noting the continued intimidation and harassment of journalists, the petitioners said the government should take all necessary steps to ensure the "cessation of all harassment, intimidation, illegal detention and criminalisation of the work of journalists, media practitioners and media houses".

"This is especially urgent given the continued detention of the Standard journalist Nqobani Ndlovu, detained at Khami Prison. This development comes against the arrest of freelance journalists Andrison Manyere and Nkosana Dhlamini on the 30th of October 2010 while covering the constitution making process in Harare.

Ndlovu who was arrested on 17 November 2010 was released from remand prison on 26 November 2010 after the High Court in Bulawayo decided against the State's appeal for his continued detention.

The petition which was drawn under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) was presented by to Prime Minister Tsvangirai in Harare on behalf of MAZ by MISA-Zimbabwe Advocacy Committee Chairperson Kumbirai Mafunda, Committee Member Stanley Kwenda and Advocacy Officer Tabani Moyo.

MAZ comprises MISA-Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe (FAMWZ), Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) and Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ).

Urging the inclusive government to fulfil its commitments to media reforms, the petitioners, among other issues, called for the reconstitution of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) in terms of the amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) and:

"To actively pursue the need to transform the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into a truly independent public service broadcaster, that is free from undue political or editorial interference.

"To actively monitor the state controlled print media to ensure equal, equitable and fair coverage of all political views to enable citizens access to diverse views and opinions." The petition was also copied to SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao, Speaker of Parliament Honourable Lovemore Moyo, Senate President Honourable Edna Madzongwe, the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Webster Shamu and that of Information and Communication Technology Nelson Chamisa, among others.

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