By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Anti-riot police of Wednesday ran amok, beating up journalists and protesters who were embarking on a peaceful demonstration against continued joblessness under the current Zanu PF led government.
Journalists who fell victim to the cops during the Harare demo were Aljazeera’s Haru Mutasa, BBC’s Tendai Masiyazviripo, freelance journalists Chris Mahove and Tony Manyangadze as well as Idah Mhetu, a female photo journalist with the Financial Gazette.
Recounting the ordeal on her Facebook page, Mhetu said she was disappointed at the police’s riotous behaviour.
“Today was assaulted by poor and hungry looking police officers who are trying to protect a government that doesn’t even care about them…ndafunga kujamuka kana neni, nxa,” she said.
The attack happened in the central business district as jobless graduates some of whom were clad in their graduation gowns were walking to parliament where they intended to submit a petition to the house demanding 2,2 million jobs promised by the Zanu PF led government if it was voted into power during the 2013 elections.
There were two protests against government which happened simultaneously in the CBD with the unemployed graduates later joining anti-Bond Notes demonstrators to express their disquiet President Robert Mugabe’s failed leadership.
“We are ashamed at the behaviour of the police and in beating us up and throwing teargas at us when they are having economic challenges where they are not getting their salaries on time; they are a hindrance to our freedom,” said Tineyi Masunda, a University of Zimbabwe Engineering graduate who was among the demonstrators.
The Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) condemned the attacks insisting journalism was a professional practice recognized by the country’s laws.
“Zinef condemns in the strongest terms the wanton assault of journalists today by police while doing their jobs in Harare,” Zinef chairman Njabulo Ncube said in a statement.
“Journalism is not a crime but a profession. What is worrying is that the assaults took place at a police sanctioned demonstration.
“It is not the first time that police resorted to violence against fully registered and accredited professionals and it appears police have declared a war against the profession.
“We call upon the government and its law enforcement agents to respect the constitution which guarantees media freedom, freedom of association, expression and other freedoms enshrined in the supreme law of the land.” Radio VOP