Zim Information Minister Distances Self From Exorbitant Media Fees

The fees which went up by 400 percent have been described as punitive and retributive by media freedom activists.

Shamu said in a statement the fees were pegged by the nine-member Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), a statutory body regulating the operations of the local media.

“It (ZMC) only turns to the Minister and the Ministry for legal administrative instruments that give full effect to its decisions.

Under the new fees, local journalists who work for foreign media will be required to pay a US$400 accreditation fee, up from US$100, while their employers will pay US$6000 annually. This is more than double the current rate of US$2500.

News organisations from the Southern African Development Community now pay annual fees of US$2000, up from US$1000.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has described the fee hike as retributive.

Although the ZMC, formed last year under Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, is deemed independent, critics say government forces linked to President Robert Mugabe could be in control of its decisions.

Zimbabwe is accused of maintaining tough media controls that have curtailed the operations of its media.

Recent months have seen the arrest of journalists working for the independent media while supporters of Mugabe’s party have openly advocated for death penalties on journalists writing so-called lies about Mugabe’s unpopular administration.

The state media has also been accused by other political parties of being a Zanu (PF) mouthpiece.