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   News Archive News
    23 September, 2009
MISA condemns violence against reporters

The Mozambican chapter of the regional press body MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has strongly protested at the brutal beating of a community radio journalist by members of Renamo in the northern port of Nacala.

A MISA statement says that the incident occurred on 16 September when Alfane Momade Antonio, a reporter for the Nacala Community Radio (which belongs to the state-owned Mass Communication Institute, ICS), went to the Renamo office to ask for the campaign schedule for the day. He had already fixed a meeting with the head of the Renamo campaign in Nacala, Rafael Gusmao.

But instead of receiving the information he was seeking, Antonio was attacked by men believed to be Renamo members or supporters, supposedly because the radio “is always saying bad things about Renamo”.

The attackers seized his notebook and pen. The radio reported the assault to the police, and Antonio was treated in the local hospital for his injuries. Although the attack happened on the Renamo premises, Renamo denies any responsibility and says it was not the work of any of its supporters.

MISA also reports that on 3 September, 10 days before the start of the election campaign, a journalist named Lazaro Antonio, who works on a community radio station in Alto-Molocue, in the central province of Zambezia, was the victim of an illegal summons by the district first secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party, Daniel Gurue.

He was told to come to the local Frelimo office and bring the cassette that he had used earlier in the day when reporting on a Renamo political activity. He obeyed the summons, accompanied by the interim coordinator of the radio. Ordered to play the cassette, Antonio did so. Gurue listened and then told him “I need this cassette so that the district administrator can hear it, so that we know whether you are authorised to use it or not”.

But Antonio refused to go along with this. He took the cassette and tape recorder back and told Gurue that his behaviour was illegal. A source in the radio told MISA “after some time, the first secretary said ‘’you can take this, but don’t do anything without talking to us’’”

The MISA statement strongly condemned “the fact that some politicians are obstructing the work of journalists, and are thus denying the constitutionally enshrined right of the people to information”.

Reporters, particularly those working on community radios, “are suffering physical or psychological violence, which is entirely deplorable under the rule of law”. MISA urged society, and politicians in particular, “to refrain from disturbing the work of journalists”.

MISA also reported a debate on Radio Mozambique on the ethics of covering the activities of the First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, when the same treatment is not given to the wives of the other two presidential candidates, Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo and Daviz Simango of the MDM.

Radio Mozambique’s Director of Information, Ezequiel Mavota, argued that Maria Guebuza is a politician in her own right, and was being covered, not as the wife of the president, but because she was leading a Frelimo campaign brigade in Maputo province. “We do the same with the campaign brigades of the other political parties”, he added.

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