POLICE on Friday summoned leaders of local media lobby organisations, claiming they wanted to understand how journalists operate amid fears they are preparing for a crackdown against independent voices.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi confirmed that he was summoned to the Harare police’s dreaded Law and Order section for the unusual interaction.
He was accompanied by Zimbabwe National Editors Forum coordinator Njabulo Ncube, Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe director Loughty Dube and freelance journalist Privilege Musvanhiri.
“We were called by the police and they were speaking in riddles, parables and building scenarios on what was likely to happen if something happened. They appeared to be on a fishing expedition,” Dongozi said.
He said the police action rattled them but they would not be moved from doing their work.
“They invited us to discuss media ethics but when we got there, they demanded our business and residential addresses, mobile numbers and other personal information as if we were being accused of something,” added Dongozi.
The union boss said they reached an understanding that the police should deal with them through the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) in future if they had issues.
“We advised them to get in touch with us through MAZ but more importantly, we told them we are ready to cooperate with them if they need clarification about our working and professional ethics,” he said.
“In the past, we have visited the Police General Headquarters and had a fruitful discussion with the top cops.”
The relationship between police and private media organisations have at times been rocky, with journalists legitimately doing their business sometimes locked up in cells and arraigned in courts on spurious charges.
In the past year, nearly a dozen journalists have been arrested or beaten by police but none has been convicted on all the cases that ended up in court.