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A Call to the State to Protect Freedoms of Expression in Zimbabwe

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) is distraught by the detention, and arrest of investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition political party leader, Jacob Ngarivhume.

WILD condemns the wanton arrests of civilians in particular journalists who are becoming soft targets and calls upon the State officials to respect the fundamental rights of media personnel and all citizens in Zimbabwe, with women being the softer targets.  Furthermore, the State is expected to take punitive measures where corruption is concerned than act in ways that intimidate whistle blowers.  It should be noted that it is women who disproportionately bare the brunt of corruption.

The pervasive morbid culture that restricts citizens’ freedom is resulting in apathetic citizenry who are threatened and discouraged from engaging in public life. Journalists should be allowed to exercise their freedom of expression especially in the case in point, to expose the corruption by government officials, and deliver credible content that is of public interest.

The continued episodes of forcefulness, arrests, detention and intimidation are in direct contrast to the provisions in Section 61 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media) that guarantee the freedom to seek, receive, communicate ideas and other information; freedom of artistic expression and scientific research and creativity; and academic freedom.

This blunt neglect of the fundamental human rights of citizens is a trend that needs to be addressed if Zimbabwe is to make significant progress as a democratic nation. There is need for genuine reforms that will ensure that all citizens are protected by the law as stipulated by the Constitution in Section 44 which provides that the State and every person including juristic persons and every institution and agency of the government at every level must respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and freedoms in Chapter 4 (Enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms).

WILD further calls on the State to guarantee the security and dignity of journalists even in the event of dissenting views. The media are a fundamental element of society in day-to-day information dissemination and as the fourth estate, they deserve to be treated with dignity.

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