MISA Zimbabwe have dispatched board members Cris Chinaka and Kelvin Jakachira to request for a meeting with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri to discuss the worsening situation of Zimbabwe police attacking and brutalising journalists.
Journalists doing their work have either been beaten up or arrested by police while covering protests that have engulfed urban areas in Zimbabwe. More than 10 journalists have either been assaulted by police or detained . Others have lost their property including cellphones, cameras and recorders during the scuffle.
Chinaka and Jakachira who are MISA-Zimbabwe’s Trust Board chairperson and acting chairperson of the National Governing Council , respectively, said the request for the meeting follows an increase in the number of journalists arrested or assaulted by the police while covering protests by opposition activists and members of various groupings.
“ It is indeed the duty of journalists to cover and report issues and all events in the country, including demonstrations,” reads part of the letter that has been sent to the police chief.
“While we do not seek to teach the police on how to do their job in maintaining law and order, we believe that that responsibility also includes ensuring the safety and security of journalists who will be dutifully executing their mandate.”
Chinaka and Jakachira said given the critical role of journalists and the police, there is need for a cordial working relationship to ensure the two essential sectors effectively execute their duties in the interest of the country.
“In fact, it is the same call of duty that the police find themselves answering to during protests that journalists also have to respond to. This is why they find themselves in the streets, precisely to cover the protests as they unravel,” reads the letter.
“Nothing else drives them, but to get the story for the benefit of the general public and indeed policy makers who also use news reports to make informed decisions in the formulation of policies.”
The proposed meeting is aimed at ensuring the police and journalists conduct their work without fear and suspicion of each other.