BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has advised security forces to allow journalists to operate with 2019 and 2020 Press cards since it was still waiting for the board to gazette new accreditation fees.

During last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns, several journalists were harassed by State security agents for using “expired” Press cards.

“The Zimbabwe Media Commission is advising all stakeholders, journalists and other media practitioners that the commission has not yet started issuing accreditation cards for the year 2021,” the ZMC said in a statement yesterday.

“The commission is still awaiting the gazetting of the 2021 fees which have already been sent to the line ministry. The commission expects these fees to be gazetted any time soon.

“Once the fees have been gazetted the ZMC will advise all journalists and media practitioners on the commencement of the accreditation process. The commission had hoped that the fees would have been gazetted well before the end of 2020.”

The commission added: “As a temporary measure to allow journalists and other media practitioners carry on with their duties during this phase of the national lockdown, the ZMC hereby expects law enforcement officers and other stakeholders to accept accreditation cards for the years 2019
and 2020.

“It is in this regard that the ZMC is appealing to all stakeholders to treat 2019 and 2020 accreditation cards as valid till the gazetting of the new fees and the resumption of accreditation. The commission calls upon all stakeholders and security forces manning checkpoints to assist journalists and other media practitioners to carry out their duties without harm or harassment.”

Acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere last night also said: “Media practitioners are considered to be part of the essential services as stipulated in Statutory Instrument 200 and in this regard, pending the production of new accreditation cards by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, journalists will continue to use 2019 press cards while the ZMC puts in place modalities for the registration for the current year.”

Meanwhile, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) — Zimbabwe has implored police to exercise restraint and allow journalists to carry out their duties unhindered during the 30-day COVID-19-induced lockdown which came into effect yesterday.

This comes after journalists were subjected to harassment which included assaults, arrests and detentions when the country first went into a lockdown in March last year.

Misa-Zimbabwe national chairperson Golden Maunganidze wrote to Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga pleading for the “safety and security of journalists during the COVID-19 lockdown”.

“Misa-Zimbabwe is humbly reaching out and appealing to your esteemed offices to ensure the safety and security of journalists, who in terms of the regulations are providers of essential services.”

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