By Talkmore Thulani Gandiwa:
As the night is getting darker every second cha……cha……cha..…Cha….., the sound of the second hand while the minute hand stir around the clock, one could tell that it is done, the clouds have berried away the moon and the stars to give birth to the light upon the land.
As I write this note my hands are trembling both with anger and fear with regard to current treatment of journalists in Zimbabwe both prior and after the announcement of total lockdown by the President.
As a trainee and future journalist, l am consumed in venturing into my profession by fear of arrest, harassment, questioning and insecurity, as evidently every written article can put one into trouble especially if the authorities feel threatened.
Recent reports in the media prove beyond any reasonable doubt, that journalism profession is among the riskiest jobs in the country, with some referring the environment as a minefield.
Journalists from both private and public media have been subjected to arrests and questioning over publication of a story, prior and during this wave of covid 19 pandemic, journalist have been arrested, treated with brutality in the middle of their jobs as they try to report to the world what is happening in the country, yet the government on the other hand preaches the gospel of professionalism and free exercise of media rights.
As the wind blows from the east to the west one could wonder who is going to be the voice of the voiceless, who is going to hold those in power accountable, who is going to advocate for change and transparent, as those who were supposed to are being brutally silenced.
The media is the fourth estate and a watchdog of the community and the voice of the voiceless they act and play the mirror role of ensuring that the citizens are well informed, educated and entertained, such as, it should practice that freely, educate without subjected to the fear of the unknown.
Taking a closer look at freedom of expression, section 61(1) (a) it grants freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information.
Peradventure the government is ignorant of the fact that the practice of journalism profession is guided by various demarcations which include editorial policy, code of ethics and conduct and all above all constitutional and statutory regulations.
As far as l am concerned, this is an adamant base of the government and is enough for the restriction of journalism practices.
Ironic enough, section 62 (2) of the constitution guarantees confidentiality of news sources.
Every person, including Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by any person, including the state, in so far the information is required for the exercise orprotection of right.
As such, well call upon our government to be democratic enough to allow free excise of media citizens right as stipulated by section 62 (1) of the constitution.
Threat from the government shows that they are undermining terms and provisions box its home made constitution.
The uncertainty of journalism is that the government has taken a stance in criminalizing the profession such that every journalist is always afraid of insecurity in practicing and committing to their work.
Like any other profession that is treated with dignity and respect, Journalism is a profession as equal to teaching, nursing and other respect jobs and should be treated with respect and admiration.
The government has to consider the indirect plea of aspiring journalist like myself who are still in college and other training institution, a plea of creating a free and conducive environment for the media to operate without the fear of the unknown.
As the new dispensation took the stand in leading the people it also has to consider granting free space of reporting as it demarcates its difference from the previous leadership of Mugabe.
Like any other profession, the media is advocating for change and real change should be seen in the face of people.
A free media is the oxygen of democracy.
Let journalist report freely.