THE state-run Media and Information Commission (MIC) has allegedly blacklisted several journalists and asked the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to bar them from covering next Saturdayâ€™s elections.
The existence of the blacklist emerged last week when a local freelance reporter Hopewell Chinâ€™ono was denied accreditation by the ZEC to cover the polls.
According to Chinâ€™onoâ€™s lawyers, Mtetwa & Nyambirai, the journalist was denied accreditation on March 11 and was told that he was blacklisted by the MIC.
â€œYour offices advised our client that he was on the blacklist provided by the Media and Information Commission for journalists who were not accredited to cover the elections,â€ the lawyers stated in a letter dated March 14 and addressed to the ZEC chairperson, Justice George Chiweshe. â€œWhen our client enquired the legal basis of such blacklisting, and which provisions in the countryâ€™s electoral laws allowed the MIC to direct ZEC on who to accredit, he was advised that the ZEC was merely relying on information provided by the now legally defunct MIC.â€
Chinâ€™ono is duly accredited by the MIC as a freelance reporter and his press card is valid until the end of the year.
His lawyers said the law did not give room for the MIC to interfere with the duties of the ZEC.
â€œWe have perused all the laws relating to the elections and the media and we have been unable to find in them any provision which allows the MIC to interfere with the supposedly independent functions of the ZEC,â€ the lawyers argued.
They further argued that it was â€œinescapable that the ZEC was deliberately impeding the full coverage of the election processâ€ through selective accreditation of journalists.
ZEC had not responded at the time of going to press.
By Bernard Mpofu