Senior journalist Kudzanai Musengi was arrested in Gweru Central Business District this morning in the course of his official duties. Police accused him of practising as a journalist without valid accreditation.
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 8:00 am only to release him around 10:45 am 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. SI 79 of 2020 was only released on the 27th of March 2020 with the new fees for accreditation of journalists.
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 Zimbabwe also reminds media practitioners to utilise the MISA JournoSOS App as well as the MISA Panic Button App in the event of any violations. MISA Zimbabwe staff is also on standby to assist media practitioners injured or arrested in the line of duty.
SOS journalists hotline
If you are a journalist in Zimbabwe and injured, detained or arrested ín the line of duty, call our 24/7 SOS journalist hotline on 0784 437 338 to access legal and/or medical assistance.
Don’t forget to have the number saved in your phone for emergencies!
Find out more about the MISA Zimbabwe’s hotline here.