VETERAN journalist Violet Gonda was Monday detained and harassed by central intelligence organisation (CIO) agents at State House while covering President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s meeting with business leaders.
The journalist recently challenged the government at High Court after she was refused a passport by former attorney general Tobaiwa Mudede.
On Monday she was detained and harassed for several minutes by three CIO operatives who also grabbed the mobile phone she was using to livestream interviews.
“They were trying to intimidate me. I did not do anything that other journalists were not doing,” Gonda said.
“They took my phone, asked stupid questions and when I tried to answer they would order me to shut up.
“They demanded to see my accreditation which was ridiculous because our accreditation cards are collected by security at gate, and they should know that.”
Journalists were barred from the interactive session between Mnangagwa and business leaders and only allowed to return and cover the closing remarks.
The meeting was called as the administration battles a worsening economic situation with monetary and fiscal interventions only resulting in prices spiralling and shortages of basic commodities.
Gonda said she was doing interviews to try and establish what had been discussed during the closed-door interactive sessions when the CIO agents pounced.
Below is her account of the incident;
What unfolded at State House when I was briefly detained by CIOs:
Journalists had been called back to cover the closing session of the meeting between ED/Govt and the business community. I was live-streaming, like several other journos. We had been authorized to do so.
To get into State House grounds we went through 2 security check points and I was cleared at both.
For my story, I talked to Kuda Tagwirei (implicated in allegations of state capture), Kindness Paradza and RBZ Governor John Mangudya when a CIO operative confronted me. He asked for my accreditation. I was live-streaming the Mangudya interview and did not have it on me— I had also left my ID at the first of the two security check points.
He marched me into a room at State House, and ordered me to switch off my phone, which I was using to record my interviews. He grabbed my phone, stopped the broadcast and switched off my phone.
They ordered me to sit down while 3 of them stood over me and interrogated me.
After being scolded by the CIO they let me go. Up to now I do not know what this was about or why I was targeted.
I did not violate any security protocols nor behave differently from other journalists at the event.
That such blatant intimidation can happen at State House during a business forum should concern all Zimbabweans interested in freedom of information and accountable leadership.