Two Zimbabwean reporters are expected to appear in court Monday following their arrest over the weekend for taking pictures inside a voting center where a by-election was being held.
Blessed Mhlanga and Chengeto Chidi, journalists from Alpha Media Holdings, were arrested in Chitungwiza on Saturday for allegedly taking photos in a polling station.
News reports of out Zimbabwe said the pair were interviewing voters about a water crisis affecting a town on the outskirts of Harare.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe immediately deployed lawyers to represent the journalists, who were also charged with disorderly conduct.
Nompilo Simanje is from the media watchdog group, which has demanded that charges against the reporters be dropped.
“While the matter is still pending, our position as MISA Zimbabwe is that we value media freedom, and that journalists should be allowed to undertake their work without fear of arrest and without any potential for harassment and unjustifiable infringement,” Simanje said.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe in 2017, Mnangagwa promised to improve Zimbabwe’s human rights record.
Raphael Faranisi, the acting permanent secretary in Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the government will keep its word.
“I do believe and unashamedly so that we have done a lot, yes there will be areas of deficits, yes there will be areas of challenges and what we would wish for people to walk with us,” Faranisi said. “For those who have been watching closely, following developments in Zimbabwe, we are on that reform trajectory and it’s not reversable.”
Rights abuses led to some Western countries like the United States imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe’s leadership in 2003, so many people are watching the outcome of this case.