Journalists in Zimbabwe face the threat of harassment, arrest and prosecution, MPs were told this week.
And the reporter who explained what life was like under Robert Mugabe’s regime has himself been imprisoned, was recently beaten up, and will be put on trial when he goes home.
Dumisani Muleya, chief reporter on the Zimbabwe Independent, was at the House of Commons to be honoured by British journalists for upholding Parliamentary democracy.
Presenting Muleya with the Speaker Abbot Award – named after the Speaker who first guaranteed journalists a seat to cover Parliamentary debates – Speaker Michael Martin told him that people in then UK lived under a Parliamentary democracy.
“When your fight for Parliamentary democracy in your home land you are put in jail, you are beaten up, and you are put on trial.”
Muleya accepted the award on behalf of other journalists in Zimbabwe, where he said the “media is in the firing line”.
“Journalists are being harassed all the time. The frontiers of press freedom are narrowed by an oppressive and aggressive regime.”
Brian Shallcross, chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, said that in Zimbabwe the Mugabe-controlled press had started carrying stories about Muleya’s visit, claiming he was being briefed by the British government to write anti-Mugabe propaganda.