In line with its constitutional mandate as provided for in Section 79 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) will be conducting outreach accreditation of journalists in Bulawayo, Gweru and Kwekwe on the following dates and venues:
1. Bulawayo: -Wednesday 25 May 2016
-Thursday 26 May 2016
Time: 0800- 1400
Venue: -Royal Hotel
2. Gweru: -Thursday 26 May 2016
Venue: Midlands Hotel
3. Kwekwe: -Friday 27 May 2016
Venue: Golden Mile Hotel
Media Houses are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to accredit their journalists who have not been accredited for the 2016 accreditation period. Renewal of accreditation is US$15.00 and first time applications are US$10.00. First time applicants are reminded to bring along their certified copies of national identification and professional certificates as well as two passport sized photographs.
NB: Journalists seeking accreditation should adhere to the said times.
The Commission will also be holding an interactive discussion with members of the Kwekwe Press Club on Friday 27 May 2016 from 1700hrs to 1900hrs.
It is now 23 years since the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day in 1993. This followed a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. In the same year, 1991, the Windhoek Declaration was adopted by African journalists underlying the same principles of press freedom. The Declaration was later endorsed by the UNESCO General Assembly.
On 3 May of each year, the Zimbabwe media fraternity joins their world counterparts in commemorating the fundamental principles of press freedom as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration states that the right to freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through various media.
This year’s theme, “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This is Your Right”, has to be viewed in the context of current developments shaping the Zimbabwean media scene. The so-called social media and its disregard for professional journalism standards poses many challenges for the media sector. The first challenge is the substitution of “media” for journalism and the confusion it creates in the public mind. The second major challenge is the inadequacy and poor quality of local content in the face of the massive increase in the number of newspapers, radio and television stations resulting from the on-going digitalization project. Now and again we witness great assaults on the journalism profession. Social media, while providing a platform for exchange of views and information, should not be used to denigrate, smear or attack the personalities of others. The Commission bemoans the abuse of this platform by citizens.
The adoption of a new Constitution in 2013 was a major development in the explicit provisions for freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. While the enabling legislation, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, provides for the same, a lot of reservations have been raised by various stakeholders on certain provisions. It has been acknowledged that such provisions within the Act need revisiting as they are no longer in compliance with the provisions of the new Constitution. The same Act was amended in key areas by partners in the Inclusive Government formed in 2009. These amendments had the effect of making the Act inoperable in certain instances. The Commission welcomes Government’s promise to revisit the Act so as to align it with the new Constitution.
The freedom of information principle, as provided in our laws, entails that government and other organisations have a duty to share or provide ready access to information they hold, to anyone who wants it, based on the right of the public to know. It is however important to remind journalists and media houses that the same Universal Declaration of Human Rights containing Article 19 also carries Article 29 which concerns duties and responsibilities to society.
In our context, obstacles to the right to know manifest themselves in various ways which include lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure, deliberate obstruction and others. Many tend to view the government or the state as solely responsible for this obstruction. Obstructions to the right to know can be self-induced by the very same media houses through self-censorship, selective reporting and, most importantly, political alignments. The years behind us have seen our media being polarized to the extent that what they reported on did not mirror what was happening around us. When this happens, readers are left more confused as to what exactly is happening around them. We call upon our media to report objectively and stick to the cardinal principles of ethical reporting. Anything less than that will leave our readers and listeners being short-changed and the knowledge they are expected to extract from reading our newspapers being diluted, as each media house will tend to push their respective agendas.
The World Press freedom Day is a day to celebrate the honest work of journalists and to identify the challenges and opportunities that the media continue to face in the day to day execution of their duties. It is a day when journalists and the media fraternity should also take stock of how they have performed their duties during the previous year.
Since its establishment, the Commission has to date registered over 100 media houses. However, the Commission is also concerned that a good number of those licenced are failing to start publishing. At the same time, the Commission is equally concerned with the concentration of media houses and media products in major urban centres, leaving out rural or communal areas.
Apart from partisan polarisation of the press, the Commission has also noticed a deplorable decline in professional standards. The ZMC calls upon all media services to espouse and enforce professional standards in their day to day operations.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission espouses the principle of plurality. This the Commission has achieved through the registration of diverse media services to cater for different interests.
While we crave for more and more freedom we should also take heed of the concerns of the communities which we serve. The press has power to influence opinion. That power should come with a great measure of responsibility. We all share one Zimbabwe. We should endeavour to promote its interests through responsible reporting.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission is guided by such principles as fairness and integrity in discharging its duties and we expect the same from our media service providers.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission wish you a better press year and brighter prospects in the new era after digitalization.
17 February 2014
The Zimbabwe Media Commission would like to inform all media houses and journalists that registration and accreditation fees for 2014 were published in the Government Gazette of 14 February 2014. The Commission is therefore calling upon on all mass media service providers and all journalists to immediately renew their registration certificates and accreditation cards respectively in line with the provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Journalists intending to renew their accreditation status should do so by 21 March 2014. A once-off penalty fee of US $10.00 will be imposed on all applications for renewal of accreditation received after the deadline of 21 March 2014.
All mass media service providers in all categories are requested to check the expiry dates on their registration certificates and approach the Commission’s office immediately in cases where registration has expired.
It is an offence to operate a mass media service without a registration certificate and to work as a journalist without accreditation as prescribed by law.
Media houses with outstanding levy payments are advised to settle such arrears immediately before seeking to accredit their reporters or to renew expired registration certificates. The Commission will not serve anyone who does not settle such arrears first.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission would like to apologise for the delay in the accreditation of journalists for 2014. The Commission has been holding consultations with various stakeholders with the view of revising the current levels of accreditation fees for both local and foreign journalists and registration fees for media houses. This process which is now complete, involved gathering views from critical stakeholders in the sector aimed at coming up with a fee structure which is affordable and reflects the economic realities on the ground.
The commission hopes that the new fee structure will be gazetted soon. The commission will make a statement when the fees are gazetted.
The Commission is calling upon all mass media service providers with outstanding levy payments for 2012 to fulfil their obligations immediately. ZMC will not accredit journalists from those media houses with outstanding levy payments for 2012.
The Commission would like to remind media houses and all journalists that it is an offence according to section 79 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to practice as a journalist without valid accreditation from the Commission.
In the meantime journalists can use their accreditation card for 2013 until the gazetting of new fees when they are expected to renew their status.