The African Editors Forum (TAEF) and the Southern African Editors Forum (SAEF) are greatly concerned about the continued harassment and arrest of journalists in Zimbabwe by the government. TAEF and SAEF call on the Zimbabwean government to immediately release Hopewell Chin’ono who is in remand prison and was denied bail on charges of “inciting public violence” in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Chin’ono was arrested on 20 July 2020 after police agents raided his home in Harare without a search warrant as required by the law. Again, on 30 July 2020, police raided and ransacked the home of online publisher ZimLive editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu in Bulawayo looking for “subversive material” supposedly linked to yesterday’s (31 July 2020) planned protests.
We wish to remind the Zimbabwean government that Journalism is not crime and therefore demand that all charges against Mduduzi and Chin’ono be unconditionally dropped immediately to allow them to continue reporting without fear. We are deeply concerned about the deliberate abuse of journalists by Zimbabwean security forces which of late has resulted in a sharp increase of their arrest and unlawful detention, especially since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Zimbabwean government should allow journalists to do their work freely without any hindrance and we demand a guarantee for the safety of all media personnel in the country. We would like to urge the Zimbabwean government to engage media within the country to find a common understanding with a view to end the harassment and arrests of journalists. This should not be happening in a democracy which Zimbabwe has declared to Africa and the rest of the world that it is. TAEF and SAEF remain committed as well as ready to assist both the Zimbabwean government and media in finding a lasting solution with a view to end the harassment and arrest of journalists.