Scrap media accreditation fees for by-elections: Misa

0
195

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to scrap accreditation fees for journalists assigned to cover the March 26 by-elections.

Zec recently invited the media and observers to be accredited for the upcoming by-elections.

Journalists working for local media will pay US$10 or its equivalent in local currency.

Fees for journalists working for foreign media have been set at US$50, US$20 for observers from outside Zimbabwe and US$10 for local observers or the equivalent in local currency.

But Misa-Zimbabwe said dual accreditation was burdensome, and unnecessary as the media watchdog called for the scrapping of the accreditation fees for journalists.

Journalists are already accredited by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) for a specific fee.

“In that regard, it is crucial to ensure that limitations to the functioning of the media are as minimal as possible. The ZMC-issued accreditation cards should suffice for media practitioners in Zimbabwe working for both local and foreign media houses to undertake their professional work on election reporting,” Misa-Zimbabwe said in a statement.

“In the event of the need for a separate and Zec-specific accreditation, that accreditation should be processed without any request for further payment by media practitioners.

“It is Misa Zimbabwe’s well-considered view that this dual accreditation and the fees in question can be a deterrent for media practitioners to undertake their work without any fear of harassment, exclusion, arrest and detention while covering the
elections.”

Meanwhile, Misa Zimbabwe has also written to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) requesting an implementation plan for fair and balanced coverage of political parties during elections.

In a letter dated January 21 addressed to ZBC chief executive Adelaide Chikunguru, Misa-Zimbabwe national director Tabani Moyo said the State-owned broadcaster was legally mandated to provide fair coverage to all parties.

Moyo cited the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the revised Sadc Guidelines governing democratic elections and 2018 observer mission recommendations which require State-owned media to be impartial.

Election observer missions said the ZBC showed bias in its coverage of the 2018 elections.

  •  Follow Nqobani on Twitter@NqobaniNdlovu