PEN SA Statement on Deportation of Journalists from Zimbabwe
23 Jan 2019
It is with grave concern that PEN South Africa notes the deportation from Zimbabwe of two South African journalists earlier this week.
The deportation of e.tv journalists, Aldrin Sampear and Linge Ndabambi, comes in the wake of the Zimbabwean government’s decision, under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to shut down the internet across the country.
Apart from bringing scores of businesses to a halt and hamstringing the local economy, this type of blackout contravenes the democratic right of access to information, as well as freedom of speech and freedom of the media.
It also created an enabling space for severe crimes against humanity to be committed as the state violently cracked down on demonstrating civilians.
Zimbabwe is no stranger to repressive media laws, which were instigated and strictly regulated by former president Robert Mugabe.
After Mugabe’s resignation in 2017 and Mnangagwa’s subsequent rise to power, Mnangagwa has repeatedly expressed his commitment to restoring true democracy to Zimbabwe. By allowing an internet shutdown and the deportation of journalists – among other infringements on freedom of speech and the media – Mnangagwa has shown an inability to make good on these promises and do what is best for his people.
PEN South Africa calls on the Zimbabwean government to revisit its commitment to democracy and, going ahead, make decisions that put the people of Zimbabwe first. We also urge the Zimbabwean government to allow journalists, writers and media practitioners to do their work without fear of persecution.