R2K slams attacks on media freedom in southern Africa

2016-08-16 16:35
Right2Know protesters (File: Beeld)

Right2Know protesters (File: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Media advocacy group Right2Know has expressed concern over the recent attacks on press freedom in some southern African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

In a press statement, the group revealed mounting concerns following attacks on journalists.

Zimbabwe media practitioners appeared to be the worst affected, with critics of President Robert Mugabe "falling prey to a wave of harassment and intimidation".

"During a Zanu-PF meeting in mid-June, Albert Masaka from local newspaper News Day was attacked by youths wielding clubs and stones, who then made off with his equipment. Shortly thereafter, five journalists were arrested covering regular protests outside a Harare hotel, where second Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has been living for nearly two years and has amassed a bill of several hundred thousand dollars. The following month another journalist was arrested while covering the protests," read part of the statement.

In mid-July, two Sky News journalists were deported after interviewing Pastor Evan Mawarire, the figurehead of recent mass protests in the country. Apart from that, Daily News journalist Mugove Tafirenyika was also attacked in the days that followed, as suspected Zanu-PF thugs beat him up at a political meeting at the party's offices.

Right2Know also cited another incident where Zimbabwean police assaulted three journalists at a protest, including a BBC journalist whose camera was broken. 

Meanwhile in Lesotho, a continued political crisis had resulted in even greater repression of journalists after the editor of Lesotho Times, Lloyd Mutungamiri, was left in a critical condition after being shot on July 9 by unknown gunmen.

The attack took place shortly after the publication of a story in the June 23, 2016, edition of the paper which referred to an "exit strategy" for current commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli. 

Amid a tense electoral season in Zambia, the country's most widely circulated newspaper, The Post, was forced to shut down, allegedly over outstanding tax payments, the statement said. 

The Right2Know campaign has since condemned the muzzling of journalists and publications across the region and called on the government of South Africa to enshrine freedom of expression and speak out against injustices within the press, and media at large.

Read more on:    right2know  |  lesotho  |  zambia  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  press freedom  |  media

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