Journalists mustn’t be subjected to multiple accreditation — Govt
GOVERNMENT has committed to repeal a section of the Electoral Act stipulating the accreditation of journalists covering elections by the country’s electoral management body following wide criticism by media organisations and observers over the overly bureaucratic process.
Journalists are currently required to be accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to cover elections despite already being registered by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). The country is expected to hold its next general elections in August.
Kindness Paradza (pictured), the country’s Deputy Information minister, told a stakeholders’ meeting on the state of readiness of the media to cover the 2023 general elections held in the capital that he met Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who also doubles as leader of government business in Parliament, over the issue.
“Yesterday I had a meeting with the highest level at Zec but their issue is that the law right now says journalists must be re-accredited with Zec whenever they are covering elections,” Paradza said.
“So the law is there, but how do we cure that? I was talking to the minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs this morning (Friday). The good thing is that we have the Electoral Amendment Bill in Parliament. We came out of Parliament around midnight (debating the Bill) and the issues which were discussed: there are two issues. We are going to amend that aspect now so that you don’t have to be accredited twice. ZMC is going to accredit you once and for all; not for Zec to accredit you again.”
Parliament is expected to resume sitting next Tuesday.
Media organisations such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum have over the years been lobbying for journalists to practice the profession with only the ZMC Press cards.
Other government and quasi-government entities which require separate accreditation are the Parliament of Zimbabwe, coverage of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Harare Agricultural Show, among others.
Paradza said the government has also undertaken to give equitable airtime to all political parties when election season starts in earnest. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to make the election proclamation anytime in order to meet the 26 August deadline.