By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Monday, arrested a senior journalist, Kudzanai Musengi in the Gweru Central Business District for allegedly practising without valid accreditation.
In a statement to Nehanda Radio, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) slammed the arrest saying there is a directive by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), released in January 2020 authorizing journalists to continue their operations using the 2019 accreditation until further notice.
“Through our Legal Officer, Ms Nompilo Simanje, MISA Zimbabwe managed to communicate with Kudzanai Musengi who verified the position and highlighted that the police officers had been detaining him at Gweru Central Police Station since around 8am only to release him around 10:45am without charging him.
“Communication with a police officer at the station also confirmed the position.
“It is a cause for concern that this journalist was arrested despite the existence of a directive by the Zimbabwe Media Commission which was released in January 2020 authorizing journalists to continue their operations using the 2019 accreditation until further notice,” MISA said.
Meanwhile, the Statutory Instrument 79 of 2020 was gazetted on March 27 with the new fees for accreditation of journalists.
With the coronavirus situation, ZMC has closed its offices as the nation is on lockdown.
MISA Zimbabwe has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to allow journalists to cover the coronavirus situation in the country without intimidation.
“As in our communique issued yesterday, in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, MISA Zimbabwe is appealing to the government, the police and other state security agents, to allow journalists covering the coronavirus situation in the country to be allowed to conduct their lawful professional duties without hindrance pending renewal of their accreditation cards in line with the new fees.
“We therefore condemn in no uncertain terms the arrest of journalists who are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights under section 61 of the charter,” MISA report added.
MISA Zimbabwe has reminded media practitioners to utilise the MISA JournoSOS App as well as the MISA Panic Button App in the event of any violations.
MISA Zimbabwe has vowed to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty.
The MISA Hotline is 0784 437 338.