Zimbabwe slashes media licensing fees

Zimbabwe’s government has reduced its registration requirements for media organisations and journalists operating in the country in a bid to reform its harsh media laws, a minister said Friday.

According to a gazette published Friday, foreign media organisations will pay $2 500, slashed from the previous $30 000 fee, for permission to operate in the country.

Fees were also greatly reduced for individual foreign journalist accreditation and for local media.

The gazette said the new prices were effective from January 1 but not yet in operation.

“The commission will start receiving applications for renewal of registration certificates by mass-media service providers and renewal of accreditation status by Tuesday [May 4],” the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Godfrey Majonga, said in a statement.

The commission was appointed in December as part of the power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

“All those mass-media services providers who have been publishing without operating licences should normalise their status by June 4,” Majonga added.

Act to be abolished
In March, Tsvangirai indicated that he will repeal and amend the country’s contentious media and security legislation by the end of this year.

According to the government work plan drafted by Tsvangirai, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act—which bans foreign journalists from working permanently in the country—will be abolished.

Tsvangirai said the act would be replaced by a Freedom of Information Bill that will be introduced to allow journalists greater access to official information.

The prime minister said a Media Practitioners’ Bill will be tabled in Parliament to regulate the conduct of journalists.

In 2002, Mugabe’s government passed an Act forcing media organisations and journalists to register with a government appointed body. This resulted in several newspapers being closed down and some correspondents of foreign newspapers being deported.

Under the new fees, journalists working for foreign media will pay $120 down from $3 000 while local journalists will pay $30.

Fees for media houses from the Southern African will be $1 000 down from $30 000. - AFP

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