MISA ACCUSES NAMPULA COUNCIL OF INTIMIDATION
Maputo, 15 Jun (AIM) – The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body, MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa) has accused the municipal council in the northern city of Nampula of intimidating journalists.
According to the MISA Nampula provincial nucleus, on Monday the Mayor of Nampula, Paulo Vahanle, ordered the removal of a journalist and a cameraman, Elisa Fernando and Jose Arlindo, of Mozambican Television (TVM) from a ceremony, at which the Portuguese municipality of Amarante donated two ambulances to Nampula (Nampula and Amarante are twinned).
Vahanle justified expelling the TVM crew on the grounds that TVM had not shown his image during its coverage of Ide-ul-Fitre, the ceremony marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Vahanle enlisted the crowd to support his censorship, urging those present to heckle the TVM reporters. Faced with this unpleasant scenario, the reporters decided to leave.
At the same ceremony, the public relations director of Nampula Municipal Council, Nelson Carvalho, confiscated the mobile phone of Areno Fogao, a reporter on the independent electronic paper “Wamphula Fax”. He justified this seizure by saying that he had not authorized reporters to record images and sound.
Contacted by MISA, Carvalho confirmed these episodes. He claimed that TVM had repeatedly covered events in the municipality, but did not then publish reports on them.
Carvalho said that TVM was biased against Vahanle, who is a member of the main opposition party, Renamo. “They never show the speeches and images of Paulo Vahanle”, he alleged.
As for “Wamphula Fax”, Carvalho denied confiscating Fogao’s cell phone, but he admitted seizing the reporter by the arm, changing the position of the phone and making it impossible for him to record.
A statement from MISA-Mozambique says the organization “repudiates this and any other form of intimidation and pressure against journalists”.
The attitudes taken by Vahanle and Carvalho “are a clear interference in the editorial independence of the media”, said MISA, pointing out that coverage of an event does not oblige the media concerned to publish anything about it.
By law, MISA added, it is the responsibility of the journalists and of their newsrooms to select their sources and decide what to publish.
MISA urged the Nampula Municipal Council to put an immediate end to its threats against journalists. If it is ever dissatisfied with a report on its activities, MISA added, it can demand the legally recognized right of reply.