Zimbabwe hikes media fees under draconian media law
January 13, 2011 10:08 AM ET
New York, January 13, 2010--Zimbabwe's power-sharing government should repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a late 2010 amendment to the legislation hiked mandatory registration and accreditation fees for the press working in the country by as much as 400 percent.
2002, AIPPA, a draconian piece of media-licensing legislation, has forced news organizations
and journalists operating in Zimbabwe to annually register with the government
and pay accreditation fees under penalty of prosecution
and jail time. Following the September 2008 power-sharing Global Political
Agreement between the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, in April 2010, the
Zimbabwe Media Commission lowered the fees, which once peaked
at a total of US$30,000 in 2009 for foreign news
The hikes under an AIPPA amendment
published in the Zimbabwe
government gazette on December 31, 2010, and effective January 1, appeared to
target international news media outlets operating in Zimbabwe
and their local correspondents. Under the new fee structure, obtained by CPJ,
an international news outlet must pay US$6,000 for permission to operate a
bureau in Zimbabwe (triple
the old rate of US$2,000) in addition to a US$1,000 application fee for such
permission (double the old rate of US$500). Renewal of this permission went
from being free to US$5,000.
Zimbabwean journalists working for foreign media are required to pay US$100 to apply for accreditation (five times the old rate of US$20) while the accreditation fee quadrupled from US$100 to US$400. The fee for renewal of accreditation went from being free to US$300.
Fees for regional southern African
news organizations doubled, while increases remained modest for local
journalists and news outlets.Authorities
have imposed a $1 fine for each day of delay starting Monday, according to
"Zimbabwe's unity government is
slowly moving backwards on press reform, using legal and administrative
constraints to hamper the media," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed
Keita. "We call on the government to repeal the repressive Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, which would be in line with media reform pledges
made under the power-sharing government."
In a press
statement this week, the Media Institute
of Southern Africa called the rate increase "invalid" based on the gazetted
amendment notation that Information Minister Webster Shamu initiated the hike, according to news reports. Only the Zimbabwe Media Commission has the
authority to set registration and accreditation fees. Shamu denied any
involvement in the hike, asserting the independence of the commission, according
to news reports.
The government has failed so far
to deliver on a March
2010 promise by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to repeal AIPPA and amend
contentious media and security legislation by the end of 2011. AIPAA,
considered one of the most repressive media laws in the region, also gives
officials sweeping discretion to withhold public information they deem not to
be of "public interest," according to a study by the Media Institute of
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