The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) with the approval of the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has set the 2022 media accreditation fees.
The new fees are stipulated in terms of Statutory Instrument 65 of 2022, which sets the fees in United States Dollars.
An explanatory note states that the fees for local mass media services and accreditation of local journalists are payable in local currency using the foreign exchange inter-bank rate of the day.
This means that accreditation fees for foreign journalists and foreign mass media service or news agency is only payable in United States dollars.
The accreditation fees for local journalists working for local media houses has been set at USD20,00 for first time applicants, USD15,00 for renewal of accreditation and USD10,00 for replacement of lost card.
Local journalists working for foreign media houses are being charged USD50,00 application fee and USD150,00 for either accreditation or renewal of accreditation.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe welcomes the setting of new fees which were already long overdue in view of the press statement that was released by the Commission in early January this year indicating that new fees would be set.
This lengthy period of operating with expired accreditation cards places journalists at the risk of being arrested by the police as has been noted through previous experiences and trends.
MISA Zimbabwe however, notes that the accreditation fees for local journalists working for foreign media houses are exorbitant and beyond the reach of many.
The fees for local journalists working for foreign media houses are of concern as USD150,00 for accreditation is unreasonable given the realities of the income levels of media practitioners.
These fees are prohibitory in nature and may result in local journalists working for foreign media houses not being able to be accredited at all.
It is the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ position that onerous conditions of accreditation are akin to censorship and endanger the right to receive and impart information.
Further, considering how long it took the Commission to have these accreditation fees gazetted, a situation that was also experienced in 2021, the ZMC and the Ministry of Information, should consider a framework that provides for two – five-year accreditation terms.
The issue of the decentralisation of the Commission is still a key gap that needs to be addressed as journalists continue to find it difficult, not only to meet the expensive costs of accreditation, but also the costs of travelling.
This statutory instrument is also purportedly enacted in terms of Section 91 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which Section gives regulatory powers to the Minister.
The ZMC is the institution that regulates the media industry in fulfillment of its constitutional mandate.
Further, AIPPA was also unbundled, repealed and replaced through the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, the Data Protection Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act.
This also presents an opportunity for the ZMC and the Ministry of Information to ensure that there is harmonisation of laws.