By Kudakwashe Vhenge
State-controlled media company, Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited (Zimpapers) has been criticized for stifling media freedoms.
This follows claims that the state media stable has fired and suspended a number of it’s employees for failing to push government propaganda.
In a statement issued recently the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) said they were “disturbed” by the suspension of Capitalk FM Radio Station manager Nyaradzo Makombe.
Makombe was allegedly suspended for approving a radio program which was meant to discuss the state of affairs in respect of torture in the country as part of commemorations of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a day marked worldwide on 26 June annually.
The program sponsored by the ZHR NGO Forum which featured renowned human rights survivors, defenders and advocates amongst them Ms Jestina Mukoko, Mr Dzikamai Bere, Dr Francis Lovemore and Mr Wellington Nkau was disrupted under unclear circumstances.
“Being a sponsored program, we anticipated an immediate explanation from the station on the reasons for the termination of broadcasting services midway the program, but this did not happen.
“The only other development pertaining this matter has been the media reports of the suspension of the station manager Mrs Nyaradzo Makombe-Hazangwi on account of the aborted show. In the same reports, Zimpapers CEO Mr. Pikirayi Deketeke is reported to have explained the suspension on the basis that the program lacked balance and that “allegations were being made without the other side being given an opportunity to defend themselves,” reads the statement.
The statement added that such actions are in violation of the country’s constitution which guarantees the right to information, journalistic freedoms and free expression.
“It is against this background that The Forum and MAZ are disturbed by this reported suspension of the station manager. MAZ and The Forum view this as an attack on media freedoms and editorial independence, in violation of section 61 of the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right to information, journalistic freedoms and free expression.
Meanwhile Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa daughter to former Health Minister David Parirenyatwa who was fired from the Zimpapers owned Capitalk FM under similar circumstances has lashed out the media giants on twitter after learning of the suspension of her former workmate.
“One day we won’t get suspended or fired for doing our jobs. One day we will get hired for our abilities and promoted for our brilliance.
One day we won’t offend older men and older women who feel threatened by excellence. Mediocrity and fear are the enemies of growth. One day is One day,” she tweeted.
Ruvheneko was sacked from Capitalk FM in August 2018 together with the station manager Napoleon Nyanhi for opening the phone lines to angry Zimbabweans in the aftermath of an army massacre in the streets of Harare during a violent crackdown on civilians demonstrating against the delayed release of 2018 election results.