By Centre News Reporter

Members of First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa’s security team today barred reporters based in Masvingo from undertaking their duties at a Male Engagement meeting held at Masvingo Polytechnic College.

Journalists from privately and community owned media organizations were told not to take any pictures or record a video during the proceedings.

The security team said Mnangagwa had cherry-picked her own journalists from the state media in Harare, hence no need for local journos to take pictures or video footage at the event.

Journalists from local organizations and freelancers were told to take a back row seat while fellow Harare based colleagues from state-owned media were on duty.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) Vice President, Godfrey Mtimba condemned the act saying if left unaddressed, the issue of selecting journalists based on their organizations will divide the media fraternity.

“ZUJ does not condone the action taken by First Lady’s security barring a certain section of the media from fully discharging theirduties during her public events.

Restricting them from covering certain events whilst others are allowed is not healthy and willdivide our fraternity.

“We call upon the First Lady to treat journalists equally and fairly since she is mother of the nation, good mothers don’t usually select their children so she must lead by example,” said Mtimba.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Masvingo Chairperson, Passmore Kuzipa concurred and called for respect of members of the media by all leaders.

“Misa condemns that by all strongest possible terms. Every accredited journalist must be allowed to operate freely when conducting their work. We challenge our leaders to lead by example by respecting all journalists,” said Kuzipa.

Amai Mnangagwa’s security team last year also barred local journalists from privately owned media organizations from covering a Cooking competition held at the same venue.

Commenting on the same issue, ZUJ Masvingo Secretary Tatenda Chitagu said: “As ZUJ, we condemn the discrimination of journalists based on media organizations they work for. Whether a journalist works for a private or public media that should not matter. Journalists should be free to do their jobs especially under the new republic which repealed some draconian laws like AIPPA.”

However, all accredited journalists are allowed to cover events addressed by her husband, President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has pledged to provide a free space for the media to operate.