News

August 5, 2020

Letter about coronavirus-linked press freedom violations in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin'ono is present while police conduct a search of his offices in Harare July 21, 2020, at his home a day after he was arrested and charged with incitement to commit public violence. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Zimbabwean branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) have written to Zimbabwe’s information minister voicing alarm about a surge in assaults on journalists and arrests in connection with their coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, RSF has registered more than 100 press freedom violations in Africa linked to coverage of the crisis. A quarter of these violations, including ten arbitrary arrests, have taken place in Zimbabwe, which is the continent’s biggest offender. The alarming crackdown in Zimbabwe recalls the Robert Mugabe dictatorship.


In their open letter dated 3 August, RSF and MISA-Zimbabwe, a local press freedom NGO, ask information minister Monica Mutsvangwa to take all necessary measures to ensure that journalists cease to be subjected to arrests, arbitrary detention or physical violence by the security forces in connection with their coverage of the pandemic.


The text of the letter has been released and can be read here.

 

Zimbabwe is ranked 126th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The Covid-19 toll in Africa currently stands at more than 1 million infections and 21,000 deaths.