The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is seeking to ban all private media houses from working during the national lockdown, saying only broadcasting stations (such as ZBC and ZTN) provide an essential service.
This came out during a High Court hearing this Friday in which media rights lobby, Misa-Zimbabwe is suing the police for harassing private media journalists during the 21-day government’s stay-at-home order.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) tweeted:
In the High Court, Zimbabwe Police Commissioner-General says journalists should stay indoors at home and be bound by national lockdown regulations as they are not providers of an essential service and only journalists from “broadcasting services” and “internet” are exempted.
Speaking outside the court on Friday, Misa-Zimbabwe lawyer Chris Mhike said:
The matter will proceed on Monday because we have run out of time and the court will, therefore, have to have another sitting to hear both parties.
We cannot go into the merits of the matter because the matter is still pending. We will be able to go deeper into what transpired and what the issues are once the hearing is finished.
There are concerns that President Emmerson Mnangagwa could extend the lockdown, and should the courts rule in favour of the police, only media organisations sympathetic to the government will be permitted to cover the lockdown.