The Media Institute for Southern Africa is calling on the Zimbabwe government to ensure peace ahead of March 26 elections, following opposition rallies that have been marred by violence claiming two lives and leaving dozens injured. Journalists also have lost valuable equipment during the melees.
Tabani Moyo, director of the Media Institute for Southern Africa, said in an interview that his organization is “deeply worried” by violence at Zimbabwe’s opposition campaign rallies.
“We therefore urge the police to enforce the law and ensure that perpetrators of violations against the journalists are brought to book. Secondly, we call upon politicians to desist from inciting their supporters or making inflammatory statements that risk putting journalists on the line of fire. This exposes journalists to possible harm from their supporters. By the same call, we call upon journalists to desist from taking part in political processes if they are still to practice their craft,” he said.
Zimbabwe is to hold by-elections March 26 to fill parliamentary and local authority seats that have become vacant since the country’s 2018 general elections.
Thandiwe Garusa is a freelance journalist who lost her phone and other equipment she was using to stream the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change rally about 300 kilometers southwest of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harrare, last week live.
“It’s also the phone I was using for pictures and stories, now that has affected my work because I can’t do that anymore," she said. "I no longer have a phone with good picture quality, the phone I am using right now is a 2016 model, it can’t even install some applications that I need to use like photoshop, I can’t even use Word, it doesn’t have a good battery and replacing the phone is now a challenge because I don’t have the money.”
Police arrested 16 suspected ruling ZANU-PF supporters who are accused of causing the violence and who now face murder charges in connection with the deaths at the rally.
Ndabaningi Nick Mangwana is the Zimbabwe information ministry permanent secretary.
“Investigations are already in place, there is a wanted man, there are people in custody, he said. "What happens in situations where a crime has been committed? There is commitment from law enforcement agents to enforce the law and that’s exactly what is happening.”
Zimbabwe’s pre-election season has been marred by violence that has claimed lives and left thousands injured since 2000 after a strong opposition party emerged.