Journalists barred from wearing ‘revealing clothes’ during Belarus President’s visit

HARARE – Female journalists have been barred from wearing “revealing clothes” as government moved weekend to set tough conditions for Zimbabwean media to follow during the high profile visit by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko this week.

Lukashenko is expected to fly into the country this Monday on what Zimbabwean authorities describe as an historic state visit set to end February 1.

It is the first time a head of state from Belarus, considered a key strategic partner to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery prospects, is visiting the country.

Government says the visit is meant to “strengthen the existing excellent relations between Zimbabwe and the Republic of Belarus”.

In his itinerary, Lukashenko is expected to join President Mnangagwa launch the Second Phase of the Zimbabwe-Belarus Agricultural Mechanisation Programme.

Government is stopping at nothing to ensure the visit by the Belarusian leader is not dented by anything, and this includes any inappropriate clothing by journalists covering the event.

In a media advisory shared with journalists on Sunday, officials from Zimbabwe’s information ministry drew a list of tough conditions for journalists to follow during Lukashenko’s visit.

“As you may be aware the nation will host the Head of State from Belarus,” read the statement.

“It is therefore imperative that as the media fraternity, we do our duty & cover the activities that will be soon availed to us in due course.

“But meanwhile & whilst we wait for the programme, I urge you who wish to cover activities that shall take place at the State House to…dress appropriately at all times.

“No casual wear soccer jerseys political regalia. Males tuck in & jacket is encouraged because it’s a formal event.

“Females no revealing clothes but anything descent.”

Journalists were also advised to report at the event 45 minutes before commencement of proceedings.

Added the ministry, “The taking of footage that is outside of the event at protected premises is not allowed. Stand guided.”

The Zimbabwean government has been tough when handling issues to do with coverage around the President and his wife.

In October last year, six journalists from private media houses were barred from covering a state house event in which Mnangagwa was appointing a Tribunal to inquire into the removal from office of former Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s spokesperson John Makamure.

Similarly, Bulawayo journalists were on 25 August 2022 barred from covering celebrations for centenarians attended by the First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds.

Paranoid Zimbabwean officials have, in some instances, forced journalists to delete images taken from scenes deemed inappropriate for public consumption.

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