MISA Decries ZEC’s Demand For Media To Pay For Elections Coverage

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By James Muonwa

THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has decried the need for accreditation of journalists intending to cover the upcoming by-elections and future polls.

MISA says every journalist duly accredited with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) should be allowed to freely cover the elections without the burden of also being accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and paying the additional requisite fees.

The elections management body has invited applications from observers and the media for accreditation for the March 26 local council and parliamentary by-elections by no later than March 22.

Zimbabwean media practitioners are already accredited with the ZMC.

However, in a statement this week, MISA said the dual accreditation of journalists was cumbersome and costly.

Said MISA: “In light of the above, while it is correct to highlight that journalists play their role in election reporting as observers and thus should be accredited, the fee should be as minimal as possible considering that it is part of the media’s constitutional function to seek, receive and impart information.

“MISA Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with this issue of dual accreditation wherein media practitioners accredited with the ZMC are requested to be accredited again with ZEC for purposes of covering the by-elections.”

MISA Zimbabwe appealed to ZEC to only require that media practitioners applying to be accredited by the commission, should submit their details based on the ZMC-issued accreditation cards without having to pay an additional accreditation fee.

“It is MISA Zimbabwe’s well-considered view that this dual accreditation and the fees in question can be a deterrent for media practitioners to undertake their work without any fear of harassment, exclusion, arrest, and detention while covering the elections,” the media lobby group said.

“A coordinated or collaborative approach should, therefore, be adopted by key stakeholders such as ZMC and ZEC to ensure that media practitioners undertake their work without any hindrances.”