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MISA denounces purging of journalists at state broadcaster for the purposes of "partisan political expediency"

(MISA/IFEX) - Eight Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporations (ZBC) employees have been summarily sent on paid vacation leave for two months, letters written to them by the Head of Human Resources Benania Shumba in early June 2008 indicate.

The eight include senior employees at the State broadcaster, Robson Mhandu (Television Production General Manager), Lawrence Maphosa (television production manager), Patrice Makova (news editor), Sibonginkosi Mlilo (executive producer, Nhau/Indaba), Monica Gavera (executive producer-national language) and reporters Brian Paradza (business correspondent), Robert Tapfumaneyi and Garikai Chaunza.

In a letter viewed by MISA Zimbabwe, one of the allegations levelled against some of the journalists is that they were "acting in a manner inconsistent with the fulfilment of the implied conditions" of their contracts.

The 8 have also been ordered to surrender their ZBC identity cards and other items that belong to ZBC and are forbidden from interacting with other employees or even visiting the state broadcasters' premises.

MISA-Zimbabwe expresses its gravest concerns over what can reasonably be perceived as the deliberate purging of journalists at the state broadcaster for the purposes of partisan political expediency on the part of those that are still in charge of the state media.

Further still, MISA Zimbabwe notes that in the face of a Presidential election run-off, this deliberate purging of media personnel at the ZBC can only be construed as being part of an orchestrated campaign to intimidate not only state media personnel but the Zimbabwean media fraternity as a whole. Media freedom violations of journalists in the form of intimidation, arrest and conviction of media personnel has taken a sharp turn for the worse especially since the elections held on 29 March. Such a situation should be condemned by all human rights activists in the country.

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