‘Attack on journalists exposes intolerance’
THE MDC-T has come under fire from media organisations following its attack on Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) journalist Herbert Moyo last week amid calls for the party to accept responsibility for their actions and to respect freedom of the Press.
Moyo, a reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent was last week assaulted by MDC-T youths while covering a demonstration at the party headquarters, Harvest House. AMH are publishers of Zimbabwe Independent, Standard, Southern Eye and NewsDay, the country’s leading daily newspaper. Media players said the recent attack on journalists by the MDC-T, a party claiming to be advancing democracy and media freedom, was regrettable and should be condemned.
AMH chief executive officer Raphael Khumalo said it was sad that the MDC-T was resorting to Zanu PF tactics to silence journalists and hide the truth.
“To us as AMH it’s wrong and it should never have happened. The MDC-T has for a long time had the sympathy of the public and it’s sad to see them resorting to the same tactics Zanu PF has used in the past to use violence against those opposing it,” Khumalo said. “It’s embarrassing for the MDC-T that it wants to deny the public the right to know and continue to lie that all is well in the organisation.
“By threatening and beating up Moyo, they are sending a message to journalists to say that if you cover the bad side of our party, this is how we deal with you.
“We have had several threats from the MDC-T leadership which we have dismissed, but the physical attack confirms their level of intolerance.”
Khumalo said the attack on journalists by the MDC-T was evidence that the party was not keen on pushing for media reforms as they wanted to use the same media now in Zanu PF hands for their own good once they get into government.
“The attack also confirms why some of us have been worried or surprised at the lack of interest the leadership has shown towards media reform. It’s a party that is uncomfortable with the media. They are looking forward to using the same media in the hands of Zanu PF once they get into power. They don’t want to reform the media and we need to be very afraid,” he added.
Khumalo said the message was that the media should not fall under the strong and powerful in society for they will abuse it. Zimbabwe National Editor’s Forum (Zinef) secretary-general Barnabas Thondhlana said the MDC-T should stop behaving like hooligans. “We take great exception to political parties behaving like hooligans, especially parties that claim they subscribe to excellence.
Journalists must be protected at all times because they are not political animals. As Zinef, we strongly condemn this action and would like to warn political parties to rein in their supporters and allow journalists to do their work,” Thondhlana said.
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe executive director Takura Zhangazha said the attack on journalists was regrettable and deplorable.
“The attack on journalists by political parties or any other person for that matter is extremely regrettable and deplorable. If anyone has a problem with journalists, they don’t have to resort to attacking journalists. They can approach VMCZ and make use of the code of conduct,” Zhangazha said.
Moyo’s attack came hardly 24 hours after Chronicle reporter Mashudu Netsianda was harassed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s bodyguards