Harare, Zimbabwe -- A Voice of America journalist was detained and assaulted on Saturday, October 8, while covering a meeting of Zimbabwe’s ruling party, the Zanu Patriotic Front. VOA’s Godwin Mangudya was repeatedly punched by security personnel and burned with lit cigarettes on his neck, chin, and other parts of his body. Party officials also seized his two cellphones and deleted their contents.
Mangudya was attempting to report on elections for the central committee of the Zanu Patriotic Front party being held in Kuwadzana, a suburb of the capital. Mangudya was openly covering the event for VOA and had received credentials from party organizers to allow him access to the site. He was held for more than an hour before being released.
“We are deeply concerned about the unprovoked and unjustified assault on our reporter,” said Yolanda Lopez, VOA Acting Director. “He was doing his job, covering events important to Zimbabwe. VOA appeals to all pertinent officials to demand fair treatment for journalists and to hold those found guilty of violence against members of the media accountable for their actions.”
Mangudya has been reporting for VOA’s Zimbabwe Service since 2003 and directs in-country coverage by the service. Following medical treatment, he returned to work.
Police have so far had no comment on the assault or their investigation of the incident. It is the second time Mangudya was attacked while covering stories involving the ruling party. He was also assaulted in 2021 while covering a Zanu PF protest. Police made no arrests in that case.
The ruling party has in the past claimed that VOA’s “Studio 7” daily radio broadcasts to the country were hostile to Zanu PF.
VOA provides news coverage for Zimbabwe in three languages: English, Shona, and Ndebele. Its programming airs via medium wave at 909 kHz and shortwave frequencies 4930, 13755 and 15775 kHz from 1700 to 1800 daily (Zimbabwean time), as well as from 0400 to 0500 and 1800 to 1830 Monday through Friday. Online content from the service can be found at voazimbabwe.com, voashona.com, and voandebele.com.