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Top Police brass meets Masvingo journalists


Top Police brass meets Masvingo journalists




MASVINGO – Police and journalists in Zimbabwe have for a long time played cat and mouse to the detriment of their duties to the public.

Journalists undermine the work of Police particularly in situations where ZRP will be trying to enforce public order. Police on the other hand take cue from statements made by politicians and interfere with journalists’ work by arresting, detaining or even assaulting the scribes.

On Thursday last week, Police National spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, top Police district commanders and Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) board of Trustee chairperson Cris Chinaka met journalists at Chevron Hotel in Masvingo as part of their nationwide tour to address the issues.

The strained Police and media relationship has been a cause for concern among senior journalists and in December 2022, Chinaka sought audience with Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga to find a way of resolving the intermittent standoffs.

The two parties came to the conclusion that they need each other and their purpose is one, which is to serve the common good of Zimbabweans. A decision was made to strike a healthy and professional working relationship that will see the two sides complimenting each other’s work.

To give a foundation to this working relationship, MISA and a Police committee came up with 12 operational resolutions meant to promote working dialogue between the Police and journalists and recently they embarked on a nationwide tour to all 10 provinces of the country to meet journalists and top Police officers there.

At the meeting journalists expressed concern that they are harassed by Police particularly during election periods. They said that they sometimes have their gadgets confiscated and pictures deleted from their cameras.

They complained that some senior Police officers humiliate journalists in public, insulting and calling them names.

Chinaka said Police and MISA have come to the conclusion that the problems are due to lack of understanding and appreciation of each other’s constitutionally provided roles. He said there was therefore need to understand each other’s roles hence Police will train journalists about their roles while journalists will do the same to Police.

He said that the meeting between Police top hierarchy and MISA had come up with 12 working points including that Police and journalists in different provinces must organise quarterly meetings to review their working relationship.

Training programmes for Police and journalists will be part of the 12 points.

“We agreed to conduct trainings for Police on the role of journalists and also trainings on journalists on the role of the Police. Police and the media agreed to strengthen relations through quarterly meetings,” added Chinaka.

Ass Commissioner Nyathi said any form of assault on journalists during the lawful performance of their duty should be reported and dealt with by the Police as enshrined in their mandate of detection, investigating and prevention of crime and the outcome of the report should also be communicated openly in order to build trust.

Journalists are encouraged to introduce themselves to Police ground commanders whenever they are covering riotous situations so that they are quickly identified.

The media pledged its commitment to fair, accurate, balanced reporting and to correct an inaccurate story sincerely.

Police and the journalists agreed to avoid the use of hate language and in cases where it is used, it should be reported to relevant professional bodies.

The meeting was also attended by Acting Masvingo Provincial Officer Commanding, Assistant Commissioner Fredrick Mbengwe.


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