Overzealous security details manning the reception at Munhumutapa Building where President Robert Mugabe’s offices are located detained Haru Mutasa, a correspondent for Al Jazeera and her cameraman Austin Gundani for enquiring on the possibility of getting a photo opportunity of Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
The two journalists were first detained at a small police post located at Munhumutapa Building at around 09:00 am before being transferred to Harare Central Police Station.
Witnesses who saw the incident told this reporter that the security detail who detained the two journalists verbally harassed them and accused them of trying to show to the world the gaps created in the cabinet meeting room because of the boycott by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from his party.
“They (security details) accused the journalists of being agents of regime change and of attempting to show the empty seats in cabinet to the whole world and make an impression that Tsvangirai is the boss in the coalition government,” said the witnesses.
The two journalists were only released at around 11:50 am after the intervention of President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity George Charamba. Charamba reportedly intervened after officials from Al Jazeera telephoned Charamba to enquire on the detention.
Al Jazeera’s bureau in Harare is manned by veteran producer Cyrus Nhara, correspondent Haru Mutasa and cameraman Austin Gundani.
Al-Jazeera, which is headquartered in Doha become the first international TV news channel in more than three years to be allowed to set up a permanent base in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe’s previous government chased away almost all western television and radio broadcasters.
Other western networks such as BBC and CNN were recently allowed access to cover events Zimbabwe after the formation of the shaky transitional coalition government formed early this year by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe. Radio VOP