The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has condemned Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara for allegedly using “intolerant and intemperate” language while answering questions from the NewsDay newspaper.

The newspaper reported on June 13 that Mutambara had accused its journalists of “writing rubbish” after he was asked about an apparent snub by SADC leaders who refused to recognise him as MDC leader.

“Who told you to call me?,” Mutambara was quoted as shouting at a NewsDay journalist, before adding: “Tell your editor to stop publishing rubbish. Your paper is writing rubbish.”

The newspaper said earlier, Mutambara had accused it of “writing stupid stories”.

But ZUJ, which recently criticised Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa over attacks on journalists, said Mutambara’s outburst made its membership “uneasy”.

“The DPM has been very intolerant against journalists over the last few days while being interviewed over his participation in the just-ended Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Johannesburg, South Africa,” ZUJ secretary general Foster Dongozi said in a statement.

“The Union would like to condemn in very strong terms the DPM’s abusive statements and call on him to use language which contributes towards peace and national healing in Zimbabwe.”

ZUJ said it feared attacks by politicians on journalists had the capacity to “endanger the lives of journalists as their supporters may take it as a cue to abuse, harass or assault journalists, newspaper vendors and media organisations.”

Mutambara, who has been battling to regain control of the MDC party now led by Welshman Ncube, was invited to the SADC summit in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and not leader of the party.

Mutambara had recently purported to have fired Ncube, despite giving up the party leadership at a congress in January.

Meanwhile, ZUJ also launched an attack on Harare councillor Joyce Kariwo who reportedly accused journalists of staying until late at council meetings “in order to eat councillors’ food”.

“We reject and condemn Clr Kariwo’s statements and would like to draw to her attention that the only reason why journalists attend council meetings until late is because they would be on assignment and are dedicated professionals seeking to provide quality service under extremely difficult working conditions,” Dongozi said.

(Source)