Tribute to Zimind staffer

THE Speaker of Britain’s Parliament Michael Martin has paid a glowing tribute to Zimbabwe Independent chief reporter Dumisani Muleya after he won the inaugural House of Commons Speaker Abbot award.

dana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Speaking at a reception in the Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster to honour the 29-year-old journalist on Tuesday evening, Martin described Muleya as courageous for exposing corruption, election rigging and writing about the plight of Zimbabwe’s farm workers.

Martin also drew parallels between Zimbabwe’s struggle for freedom and the breakthrough in South Africa.

“One day we hope Zimbabwe will have its freedom like the cousins you have in South Africa. And when that freedom is won, people will make the observation that you were at the forefront of the struggle for democracy, justice and peace in your country.”

He added: “Parliamentary democracy to us here in Britain is something we have from the day we are born to the day we die. When you fight for parliamentary democracy in your homeland, you are put in jail and you are beaten.”

Speaker Martin compared Muleya’s fight for the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans to that of assassinated Archbishop Romero of El Salvador and Irish journalist Veronica Guerin who was shot by drug lords.

“We thought this should go to a journalist somewhere in the world who had struggled to fight for democracy and freedom at personal risk to themselves.”

Muleya, who has been imprisoned and threatened by President Robert Mugabe’s regime dedicated the award to his colleagues at the Independent whom he said were brave in the face of a repressive government.

“Zimbabwe is a country deeply in crisis at the moment and that crisis is touching all facets of life in the country. The media is in the firing line as a result,” Muleya said.

“Journalists are being arrested and presented with malicious charges. They are also being harassed all the time.”

The award was inaugurated to mark the bi-centenary of the admission of the press to the House of Commons chamber and is named after the Speaker who first allowed the press access to Commons proceedings.

It is given to a journalist who is considered to have made the greatest contribution internationally to the protection, promotion and perpetuation of parliamentary democracy. –