The Zimbabwe Media Commission has suspended the accreditation of all journalists and media practitioners in compliance with the High Court Interdict obtained by the Zimbabwe Online Content Creators Trust (ZOCC) to stop the Commission from proceeding with the current accreditation framework.
This year, the Commission had introduced a framework where two additional categories for filmmakers and online content creators were added to separate them from journalists. This development was going to see some content creators failing to attend and cover some events, or face abuse according to ZOCC.
In a statement, ZMC said it has temporarily stopped the accreditation of media practitioners to give itself time to interpret and understand the judgement and meet stake holders to deliberate on the issue of accreditation of media practitioners.
Below is the full statement from ZMC:
“This notice serves to inform all stakeholders that the Zimbabwe Media Commission has temporarily suspended the accreditation of all media practitioners following a High Court Interdict obtained by the Zimbabwe Online Content Creators Trust (ZOCC)
It is in the spirit of upholding the Court judgement that the Commission has temporarily stopped accreditation of media practitioners. The Commission needs time to interpret and understand the judgement and its implications.
The Commission will soon be meeting with stakeholders to deliberate on the issue of accreditation of media practitioners. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the legal instrument proving for registration and accreditation, only provides for the accreditation of journalists who meet certain basic standards as contained in Statutory instrument 169C of 2002, Second Schedule (Section 2) and the requirements as per Form AP3 which is part of the schedule.
The Commission will soon issue a statement on the resumption of the accreditation process after meeting with stakeholders and the legal implications of the judgement”.
Problem with the suspension
The suspension is going to create problems for some journalists who were not issued the 2020 accreditation cards, especially those who write for online publications and freelancers because the interdict was issued before their scheduled days for accreditation.
These journalists are likely to clash with security forces at roadblocks and other areas when they will be conducting their duties as they will be carrying old cards. The fact that some journalists have new cards will drive security forces to be tough on those who are yet to get new accreditation cards. So the ZMC should communicate with law enforcement agents to prevent these potential clashes.