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Council bars reporters

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GWERU City management yesterday barred reporters from different media houses from attending a council meeting, saying it was “special” and journalists could not attend.

Stephen Chadenga
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Scores of journalists who had thronged the city chambers to attend the meeting were surprised when council administrator, a Mr Mbangana, said they could not be part of the meeting.

This is not the first time council has barred journalists from covering a meeting under the excuse such meetings are “special and confidential”.

Journalists are allowed to attend full council meetings, but management has been secretive on the dates of such meetings. Commenting on the behaviour by city fathers, law experts said it was surprising that the media were barred from covering council meetings, when they were the platform through which residents could be informed of council business.

A city lawyer, Brian Dube, said journalists were important stakeholders and should be allowed access to council information, which they should convey to other stakeholders.

“I do not see why the media should not attend such meetings unless there is a hidden agenda by council officials,” he said.

“Even in the case that reporters don’t attend such meetings, there should be a public relations office that deals with the media and
updates them on council proceedings.”

Unlike other cities in the Midlands province like Kwekwe that have an open-door approach to reporters, Gweru has a secretive approach in the way it conducts its business denying vital information and council minutes to journalists.

Though mayor Hamutendi Kombayi could not be reached for comment as he was in the meeting where journalists were barred, he is on record saying reporters should access information from council.

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