Glasgow welcomes Zimbabwe colleagues
ZUJ colleagues address meeting in Glasgow - © Private
25 November 2010
Dozens of journalists, asylum seekers and campaigners gathered in Glasgow this week to meet the secretary general, Foster Dongozi, and an activist, Jennifer Dube, of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ).
The meeting – at the offices of the Scottish Trades Union Congress – was the second of the NUJ-hosted tour of the UK and Ireland for the Zimbabwean trade unionists.
Glasgow has become home to large numbers of Zimbabwean asylum seekers under the Home Office dispersal programme.
Jennifer Dube, a reporter at The Standard newspaper in Harare, described some of the difficulties for women journalists trying to break into male-dominated areas of journalism, such as political reporting.
She also described her union's work in helping women end sexual harassment in the workplace.
Foster Dongozi asked:
"Is there a right to freedom of expression in Zimbabwe?"
He then replied:
"Yes, but is there the right to freedom once you have exercised your freedom of expression? Emphatically, no!"
He described how the ZUJ campaigns to try to rescue these rights for journalists in an atmosphere where reporters are regularly jailed, beaten or shot for their work. President Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party is threatening to make it critical reporting of the government a capital offence.
Foster Dongozi concluded by quoting from Martin Luther King – that in a time of crisis, you should not fear the noise of your enemies, but the silence of your friends.
"In our time of crisis, the NUJ has never been silent."
A Zimbabwean community activist, Patience Tsungu, who works with the Scottish Refugee Council spoke of the strong support networks that have developed in Glasgow. Others at the meeting highlighted the looming threat to asylum seekers in Glasgow from all countries from removal notices posted to them earlier this month by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) following the breakdown of negotiations over housing contracts with Glasgow City Council.