Sanef rails against Zim election ban

The ban on free-to-air television broadcaster from covering the Zimbabwean polls detracts from that country’s claim to hold free and fair elections, the South Africa National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said on Tuesday.

“Sanef condemns the Zimbabwean government’s barring of South Africa’s major independent TV station from covering the final stages of that country’s presidential and parliamentary elections,” said spokesperson Raymond Louw.

He said that’s editor-in-chief, Debora Patta, confirmed that the broadcaster had been informed of the ban, but that no reasons were given.

“Zimbabwe has imposed selective accreditation of foreign media seeking to enter the country to cover the elections; was told on Tuesday March 25 that its application had been refused,” Louw said.

Zimbabwe’s state-owned Sunday Mail, which first reported the ban, said the reason was that the broadcaster had previously breached media and security laws in a report on diamond smuggling last year.

The South African broadcaster’s Zimbabwe-born reporter was fined at the time for operating without authorisation as required by Zimbabwe’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“Sanef acknowledges the broadcaster’s previous offence but notes that the penalty was paid and that this offence should not now be held against the broadcaster.

“Sanef also notes that the ban conflicts with section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, which states that ‘no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference’.”

Louw said the ban also conflicts with other international protocols such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, on which Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has relied on occasion in freedom-of-expression issues.—Sapa

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