April 20, 2021

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Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association treasurer Tapiwa Mungofa addressing the media during a press conference at the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare on March 26, 2020, where they vowed to boycott work unless the government provides protective gear to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Let’s Not Neglect Journalists They Are Front-line Workers

Editorial

Harare- Norton Legislator, Themba Mliswa yesterday sent a message of condolence to the Munyaka family for the sad loss of ZBC broadcaster Janet Munyaka, who died last week of Covid-19.

Mliswa asked parliament and government if it is meeting its required obligation on Journalists at the state owned broadcast, which for the first time got an allocation in the proposed 2021 budget.

The welfare of journalists has been questionable since the beginning of the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic which has claimed over one million people globally.

“With little or no income media personal are getting, are they able to pay for their Covid testing which cost around USD $65. It is my humble submission that these people after doing their job, meeting and mixing with a lot of people here in parliament and on government business, journalists and health workers go back to their families who also need to be protected”

Mliswa further highlighted the need for contact tracing both to Munyaka family and those she worked with at ZBC.

He told Post On Sunday that for the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, ZBC has been included in the budget, but  not alone in the industry they also meet and mix with those from private media and a unison approach is needed to fight Covid-19.

“We should not wait until one goes to the hospital, if you have one of your family members attacked by Covid-19, you will understand why I moved this motion, my sister, Marry Chikoka tested positive and I understood her better”

To date more than five journalists have died of Covid and in Zimbabwe more than 10 tested positive.

 

It is however common knowledge that, Ministers, MPs and journalists meet on several occasion and at the end they are being attend to by health workers who are poorly remunerated without required equipment.

 

Secretary for Administration in the Zanu Pf party, Obert Mpofu and his wife tested positive recently while Tafadzwa Mugwadi is reportedly in self-isolation, but few days ago they hosted a cocktail with party members and journalists at the party’s headquarters.

Nigel Nyamutumbu of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) told this publication that there is need for multi-stakeholder broad intervention matrix to address journalists safety on the front-lines of reporting the Covid 19 pandemic.

“The death of broadcaster, Janet Munyaka, who succumbed to Covid 19 is just but telling sign of a deep rooted crisis that journalists are facing in telling the Zimbabwean story, particularly in covering the pandemic”

Nyamutumbu further added that the sector has not benefited from the government stimulus package despite being front-line practitioners in the high risk category. Instead Journalist are in most cases harassed and arrested while executing their duties.

In his submission, Myamutumbu made a plea that government could also provide tax incentives and other such policy interventions that broadly ensures the media sector remains sustainable and equipped to respond to disasters and in this case Covid-19.