Zimbabwe stands by media fees policy

Zimbabwean government officials insisted on Friday that they would not back down from a plan to require journalists and media houses to pay higher registration fees.

Foreign media outlets are now required to pay $6 000 to register in the country, up from $2 500. Zimbabwean journalists working for the foreign press need to pay an accreditation fee of $400 — up from $100.

‘Shocking and retributive’
The deadline for payment was Friday, but Godfrey Majonga, who heads the government-appointed Zimbabwe Media Commission, said there might be some leeway in the payment date.

“We will not reduce the fees. Probably we will extend the period a little,” he said, noting that the government wants to promote the media industry in Zimbabwe.

He said journalists should be able to pay the fees. “We assumed that they were being paid decent salaries.”

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has condemned the new fees as “shocking and retributive”, arguing that they “can only make journalists go underground or stop practicing”.

The government has warned journalists and media organisations that they face prosecution if they fail to pay the fees, which, in some cases, mean a 300% increase.

Representatives of journalist’s unions say they are trying to meet with government officials to work out a solution that does not involve the higher payments, but said they have not been able to meet with key government figures yet. – Sapa-DPA

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