THE Southern African Editors’ Forum (Saef) has complained over the high accreditation fees being charged by the Zimbabwe government for covering the 34th Sadc summit to be held in Victoria Falls next week, saying the fees were “exorbitant”.
In a statement, Saef, which is chaired by Jovial Rantao of South Africa, said it was gravely concerned that Sadc journalists covering the summit were expected to pay US$65 to be accredited.
“An email sent by the Sadc (Southern African Development Community) Public Relations head, Ms Leefa Martin, to media shows that journalists are expected to pay and that the accreditation fees have more than doubled specifically for the coverage of this Summit,” reads the statement.
“The Zimbabwean government is requesting Sadc journalists wishing to cover the summit to pay US$65 and others from the rest of Africa US$80. Journalists from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world will have to fork out US$150.”
In her email, Martin emphasised that “the above accreditation regime and fees only apply to the coverage of the 34th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government”.
The forum said it believed the fees would hinder the free-flow of information to more than 200 million Sadc citizens.
“The imposition of accreditation fees goes against the spirit of free expression as per Sadc protocol on Information and Culture and the AU’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. Saef calls for the unconditional scrapping of the accreditation fee,” said Saef.
“Saef also insists that accreditation should not be used by governments to make money. Bona fide journalists should be unconditionally accredited to cover Sadc events. Ideally, no fee should be requested by any government. We call for the intervention of the Sadc leadership on the issue. Saef intends to directly engage with the leadership of Sadc to seek a lasting solution to this problem.”