Experts condemn Gov’s Covid-19 info strategy

Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.
Mirror Reporter
Masvingo – Zimbabweans including media experts have roundly condemned Government for failing to give citizens information that is critical for creating the necessary awareness in the fight against Covid 19.
They said that Government daily updates on the pandemic are not comprehensive, the lockdowns are harsh and they condemned the arrests and detention of journalists by Police during the course of work.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson, Kumbirai Mafunda said the daily updates from the Ministry of Health and Child Care lacked critical information which the public has a right to. He said daily updates must always have the total number of Covid-19 cases investigated, the admissions recorded thereof and the cases confirmed as positive.
In most cases one or two of those categories of information is missing from the updates, said Mafunda.
“Access to reliable and credible information is a critical tool in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
He also called on Government to build a broader framework that includes Government, Civic Society and members of the public in the interest of openness, accountability and transparency.
MISA director, Thabani Moyo expressed shock at the harassment of journalists during the current lockdown.
He said the media should be treated as part of the solution and not the problem in the fight against the pandemic. Fighting the pandemic without the media, he added, is like shooting in the dark.
“We have made an urgent High Court chamber application for an order to stop Police and other security agencies from harassing journalists,” said Moyo.
Moyo said harassment of journalists appears to be well co-ordinated from somewhere although Government condemns the acts in public.
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) chairman, Njabulo Ncube made an impassioned plea to Government to allow journalists to go about their work freely. Ncube said harassing journalists during this time of Covid is shooting “ourselves in the foot”.
“Failure to allow journalists to operate freely will result in lack of useful, reliable and truthful information in the fight against the deadly pandemic,” said Njabulo.
Enia Makore, a Masvingo resident accused Government of implementing programmes on Covid-19 without informing the public and therefore causing confusion.
“On Monday this week for example we were told that the vegetable market at Chitima was reopened and it would operate from 8am to 11am every day. Residents whose food stocks are running out rushed to the market only to find that the place had been closed at 7am and Police was brutalising people there.
“Instead of informing people of the changes, Police barricaded roads and treated residents like criminals by battering anyone who sought an explanation on what was going on.
“There is such a dearth of information from Covid-19 Provincial task forces that we resort to the social media for updates. The task forces have no way of getting information to the people particularly the urbanites,” said Makore.https://masvingomirror.com

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