First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s office ‘harassing’ private media journalists
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s office is being accused of harassing and intimidating media practitioners from online and independent media publications.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Online Content Creators (ZOCC) said it was concerned by several reports that members from the First Lady’s office were harassing independent journalists and sometimes blocking them away from covering her events.
“We note with concern that there has been a growing trend of accredited personnel being blocked from covering events officiated by the First Lady,” read the statement by ZOCC Toneo T Rutsito.
“What is more concerning is that the officials often unleash state security agents to force out online content creators out of any proximity to the First Lady’s functions.
“Featuring prominently in these acts is one official from the Office of the First Lady, Mr John Manzongo, who tasks and helps security agents to push out the journalists.
“Manzongo is a former staffer with The Herald.”
ZOCC further stated that; “Recently, the unbridled Manzongo also targeted journalists, Aaron Ufumeli of The Newshawks, Lovejoy Mtongwiza of 263chat, Pelagia Mupurwa of TechMagTV and Julia Ndlela from Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) and barred them from covering another separate event.
“ZOCC also received a report where journalists Moses Matenga and Hillary Maradzika were warned against publishing anything to do with the First Lady at an event in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central province by Manzongo.
“Three other unnamed journalists attending the same function suffered the same fate.”
The association reminded “the Office of the First Lady that under the Access to Information Act, Section 62, (1) Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.
“(2) Every person, including the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by any person, including the State, in so far as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right.”
ZOCC said it had since engaged the Office of the First Lady’s Public Relations Department with the concerns and it awaits a formal position regarding the issue.
“Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba has been very cooperative on the matter as he agreed that there has to be a mutual working relationship between the fourth estate and government, although he cautioned that the first lady was not a government official.
“Threats by officials in her office to unleash security on accredited journalists covering her events is unconstitutional and should therefore stop while action should also be taken against officials using such tactics divorced from what the Second Republic purports to represent,” further read the statement.