By Nomalanga Moyo
A Bulawayo-based reporter had a lucky escape Tuesday after a group of ZANU PF activists who wanted to assault her, failed to identify her when she changed clothes.
The incident happened at the Bulawayo Press Club where representatives from three political parties had been invited to speak about the ruling party’s economic programme known as the ZimAsset.
Freelance reporter Annahstacia Ndlovu was one of the co-organisers of the Media Institute of Southern Africa event which was discussing how the media could cover the ZANU PF government’s flagship economic programme.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme, who attended the meeting, said a number of journalists were roughed up by the rowdy youths.
Saungweme said organisers were forced to prematurely end the meeting after the ZANU PF delegation started shouting and drowning out the other speakers.
“The activists, many of them youths, were unhappy with some of the points raised by panelists Adrian Moyo and Kudakwashe Muchemwa of the MDC and MDC-T respectively.
“Khumbulani Moyo, who presented on behalf of ZANU PF, failed to articulate ZimAsset and was clearly outdone by the other two presenters who were critical of the value of ZimAsset,” said Saungweme.
ZANU PF promised to revive the economy and create at least two million jobs once in sole control of the country, but now says it has no money to implement ZimAsset.
The MDC’s Moyo also raised concerns over the failure by the information ministry to repeal laws that continue to infringe on the right to freedom of expression.
He said if Minister Jonathan Moyo is indeed serious about reaching out to the privately-owned press and normalising relations, his efforts should start at aligning the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act with the new constitution.
AIPPA came into force in 2003 as part of the ZANU PF government’s campaign to persecute and silence journalists in the privately-owned press.
In his presentation, the MDC-T’s Muchemwa argued that the Zim economy was failing because the ruling party kept recycling the same old faces with no fresh ideas on how to move the country forward.
“As young people we are saying what will we benefit in a country that is run by old people whose average age, minus Walter Mzembi and Saviour Kasukuwere, is 75?”
This did not go down well with ZANU PF supporters in the audience who took this to be a direct attack on their 90-year-old leader.
Despite the ZANU PF supporters being fully aware that the meeting was held to discuss ZimAsset, they nonetheless approached Annahstacia Ndlovu and demanded to know why journalists were discussing a party programme.
The party activists told Ndlovu that journalists had no right to discuss issues they do not understand. Ndlovu is said to have asked if the youths would be willing to discuss the Gukurahundi massacres, a topic she is well-versed in.
Our correspondent said this further angered the ZANU PF crowd, with some of them trying to physically attack Ndlovu, who however managed to escape.
“She hid in one of the rooms at the Royal Hotel, the venue of the Press Club, changed into a new jacket and sneaked out of the hotel.
“Some of the ZANU PF youths went out and returned with some police officers, demanding that they arrest Annahstacia but by that time, she had managed to leave,” Saungweme said.
Ndlovu confirmed the incident to SW Radio Africa Wednesday but declined to comment further than that the attack had reminded her “that journalism is still a dangerous profession in Zimbabwe”.
Last week, ZANU PF Minister Didymus Mutasa warned the media that his party is considering criminalising any public discussion on Mugabe’s succession.
The minister also said the ruling party will deal ruthlessly with journalists who write about Mugabe’s health. SW Radio Africa