Zacras expresses concern with the continued harassment of community radio practitioners by the state through the police and other state security agents. Wezhira CR producer Wilson Maphosa was summoned on Monday morning 15 June 2015 to the CID law & order section at the Masvingo Central Police station, for questioning regarding the activities of the community radio initiative which has been utilizing legitimate and legal alternative means to promote access to information to the community of Masvingo. These means include use of mobile and internet based platforms. WeZhira Community Radio initiative is a legally constituted community media organisation awaiting to be licenced when the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe calls for applications. Part of Section 62 of the constitution says “Every person, including the Zimbabwean media has the right of access to any information held by any person, including the state, in so far as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right.”
We wish to state the following:
- It is a violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights to access to information for the police or any other arm of the state to interfere with the citizens’ efforts to access useful information.
- That the harassment of this nature has a net effect of instilling fear in citizens which inhibits the full enjoyment of constitutionally guaranteed rights.
- It is the role of the police and other security agents to actually protect citizens and allow them to enjoy their rights as opposed to violating the same rights.
- The state should change its attitude towards independent community broadcasting media from the negative one which sees it as an enemy of the state to one which sees it as complimentary and a partner in development.
We wish also to appeal to the government of Zimbabwe to do all possible to promote and protect the rights of citizens as well as licensing these community based radio initiatives as a way of enhancing access to information and freedom of expression to citizens. Community radio plays a very critical role in promoting access to information and development in local communities.
The government of Zimbabwe must desist from targeting those who seek to exercise constitutionally guaranteed rights, for intimidation, arbitrary arrest and other forms of harassment.
ZACRAS – 0772 717 994/0772 982 134