Zimbabwe quadruples foreign media licensing fees

Zimbabwe has quadrupled fees for local journalists working for international media organisations, new regulations published on Thursday reported.

Zimbabwean reporters working for foreign media will be required to pay a $400 accreditation fee, up from $100, while their employers will pay $6 000 annually, more than double the current rate of $2 500 dollars.

The regulations for 2011 will also see journalists working for foreign media pay an application fee of $100 — up from $20 — and southern African news outfits paying annual fees of $2 000, up from $1 000.

The rising costs are at odds with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s suggestion last March that he would repeal and amend contentious media and security legislation by the end of 2011.

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

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

In 2002 President Robert Mugabe’s government passed an act forcing media organisations and journalists to register with a government-appointed body, which was considered a form of censorship. Local newspapers were shut down.

The international media relies almost exclusively on local journalists to provide coverage from Zimbabwe. Most foreign correspondents were thrown out of the country in 2003 and banned from holding permanent bases there. — Sapa-AFP

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