Journalists Harassed By Tsvangirai’s Security Guards

SEVERAL journalists were on Wednesday barred by MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai’s security guards from entering his Strathaven home where the prime minister-designate was scheduled to hold a press conference.

The journalists were blocked from attending the conference after failing to produce accreditation cards from the Media and Information Commission (MIC).
The MDC is on record as criticising the creation of the MIC under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the licensing of journalists by the commission.
The press conference was later deferred to yesterday.
Tsvangirai’s guards claimed that there were instructions from the “top” not to allow in journalists without the MIC accreditation cards.
Attempts by journalists to explain that they were not accredited because they worked for newspapers and radio and television stations the government deemed hostile were fruitless.
The guards pushed and shoved the journalists.  
Stanley Gama, a freelance journalist, yesterday expressed disappointment at the harassment he suffered at the hands of Tsvangirai’s guards.
Gama said: “Journalists are at times harassed to cover MDC functions where they use the same repressive media laws which they denounce. With the power-sharing deal coming in, protection of media practitioners is doubtful.”
A journalist who preferred anonymity said the security guards asked him for his MIC card and when he told them that he did not have one and was about to leave, the party’s spokesperson Nelson Chamisa saw him and called him back to attend the conference.
“It was no big deal, it was just a misunderstanding by ignorant guards,” he said.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalist President Matthew Takaona said the barring of journalists from attending the conference reflected badly on the future of the media environment in the country.
 “If the journalists were truly barred then media law and media reform under an inclusive government look very bleak,” Takaona said.
Chamisa yesterday said it was not the party’s policy to be hostile to journalists.
He said: “It was wrong and we have now corrected the situation. We will make sure that in future it does not happen again.” –– Staff Writer.