Zimbabwe: Journalists Detained At MDC Alliance Anniversary Commemorations

13 September 2021

TWO journalists were Saturday detained by the military and police during the MDC-Alliance's 22nd anniversary commemorations held in Bulawayo.

The two journalists Pamenus Tuso, a freelance and Lulu Brenda Harris from CITE were also forced to delete photos and videos which they had taken during the aborted event.

Trouble started when the military and the police ordered the Alliance's president Nelson Chamisa to cut short his address claiming that the meeting which was only attended by the party's provincial executives in line with COVID 19 regulations was illegal.

But however according to the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act a public meeting means any meeting of more than fifteen persons in a public place or meeting which the public or any section of the public is permitted to attend, whether on payment or otherwise, but does not include a meeting of any organ or structure of a political party or other organization held in.

The state security agents who were clad in civilian attire swooped on the journos when they were taking photos of the delegates who were reluctantly streaming out of the private venue of the meeting following the police 's order.

"Why are you taking photos of us? Who are you? Please remain where you standing. We want your details," said one of security agents who identified himself as a police officer.

When the journalists showed the officer their valid Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) cards, he demanded the scribes's camera and phone and went through the gadgets.

After going through the images, the officer took the camera to one of the security agents who identified himself as a military person and apparently the head of the team.

"Chef it seems like you image. We do not want our images to captured in cameras," said the officer referring to one of the blurred photos which one of the journalists had taken.

In response the military person threatened to seize Tuso 's Sonny camera before ordering the delete ting of the photos.

"I am a military man and I do not care whom you are. Delete all the photos which you have taken," he said before Professor Welshaman Ncube reminded him that "but these are civilians,"

Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) national chairperson Golden Maunganidze condemned the journalists 's detention.

"As MISA, we call upon authorities to respect and protect accredited journalists who are doing their work within the confines of the laws of the country. Surely taking photos at a public meeting cannot be a criminal offence. Section 62 of our Constitution guarantees press freedom and access to information," said Maunganidze.

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