Media Registration Fees Assault on Press Freedom

THE gazetting of exorbitant media application and registration fees by the Zanu PF government represents a determined assault on press freedom and the constitutional right of Zimbabweans to receive and impart information.

The Media and Information Commission (MIC) recently announced increases of up to US$4 000 for foreign media journalists to operate in the country and up to US$32 000 to establish offices in the country.

The increases are four times more than those of last year.

The MDC is strongly against these punitive regulations, which are an attempt by a dying regime to silence the remaining small but vibrant media in the country.

Since the enactment of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) in 2002, the Zanu PF regime has made every effort to make it difficult for journalists to operate in the country.

As a result hundreds of journalists have been forced to flee the country while several independent media houses and broadcasting stations have been closed.

The punitive registration and accreditation and registration fees represent the lack of sincerity on the part of Zanu PF to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the three major political parties on  September 15 2008.

All parties agreed, under Article 19 of the GPA, that freedom of expression has to be guaranteed in the country.

The exorbitant fees being touted means that press freedom has been dollarised, much to the detriment of ordinary Zimbabweans who are starving for information.

Access to information under the Constitution of Zimbabwe and international law is a basic human right.
The MDC believes that press freedom is a basic canon for any democracy.

Only rogue regimes have the reprehensible penchant to stifle media freedom in order to prevent journalists from peeping into crevices that would expose misgovernance and graft.  

The MDC believes in a Voluntary Media Council where journalists conduct their own affairs without government interference.

Press freedom is the people’s freedom. Zimbabweans deserve heir place in a true democracy.

MDC Information and Publicity Department.