JOURNALIST Michael Magoronga, who writes for the State-owned Herald and Chronicle newspapers from the Midlands Province, was on 25 January 2021 arrested by police in the Midlands town of Kwekwe who accused him of using an expired Zimbabwe Media Commission-issued accreditation card.
Magoronga was arrested while taking pictures in the city centre as part of a story that he is working on.
He was detained for more than an hour at Kwekwe Central Police Station and later released without charges after the police said they had confirmed that journalists are still allowed to use the expired 2019 accreditation cards.
Media watchdog MISA Zimbabwe said it notes with concern that Magoronga’s arrest comes after police in Kwekwe assured journalists they would not be arrested over the expired accreditation cards.
This followed a meeting on 8 January 2021 between the Officer Commanding Kwekwe District, Chief Superintendent Maingire, and MISA Zimbabwe Kwekwe Advocacy Committee chairperson, Kudakwashe Zvarayi.
During the meeting, Chief Superintendent Maingire said he would accordingly communicate that message to all the police details in the district.
In an earlier statement, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), said it was aware of the “challenges and concerns” of journalists going about their duties without being duly accredited for this year and during the current COVID-19 national lockdown.
In that regard, the ZMC said, law enforcement officers and other stakeholders are expected to accept accreditation cards for the years 2019 and 2020.
Although the 2021 accreditation fees have since been gazetted, the ZMC is still to issue the valid 2021 accreditation cards.
Meanwhile, MISA Zimbabwe urges the Commissioner-General of Police to sensitise members of the force on the critical and lawful role played by the media, and ensure that journalists conduct their professional duties without hindrance. – via MISA Zimbabwe