THE government turned down scores of applications by foreign journalists to cover the general election next Thursday but in a major turnaround this week signalled to others that they were welcome
to come — so long as they had the money!
It will cost them US$600 to secure accreditation.
Although Media and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso could not immediately comment on the number of foreign journalists that had been accredited by Tuesday, saying “they are still coming”, official sources said more than 50 journalists mainly from “unfriendly states” had been denied accreditation to cover the election.
Mahoso however confirmed that there was a heavy presence of journalists from South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). He said other news agencies such as Reuter and AFP were bringing in reinforcements but could not immediately comment whether British and American journalists would be accredited.
“We have received over 100 applications but we will obviously not accredit all of them, they are too many,” Mahoso said.
The international media is clamouring to cover what many expect to be a strong challenge to Zanu PF’s 25-year autocratic rule.
President Mugabe has accused the independent media in Zimbabwe and foreign correspondents of “printing lies and stirring up unrest in the country”.He has divided the foreign press into perceived friendly and unfriendly camps in an effort to control the media coverage. The BBC and most mainstream British media outlets have been banned in recent weeks as organs of “the former colonial masters”.
Last month, Angus Shaw of the Associated Press, Brian Latham of the Bloomberg financial news service, and Jan Raath, correspondent for the London Times, Sapa, and German news agency DPA fled Zimbabwe after police raided their offices.
In January, President Mugabe signed an amendment to Aippa to clamp down on journalists practising without licences.