Moves by the government of President Robert Mugabe, to tighten Zimbabwe’s already strict accreditation rules could lead to the jailing of journalists.
Press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders said the plans to amend the country’s law on access to information and protection of privacy will reinforce control over an already debilitated independent press.
Section 83 of the 2002 law bans journalists from working unless they previously obtain a renewable 12-month accreditation from the government’s Media and Information Commission. Under an amendment proposed by the government, any breach of this section will be punishable by up to two years in prison.
The new threat to independent journalists follows the government-enforced closure of The Daily News and The Tribune newspapers. RWB said: “What happened to The Daily News and, more recently, The Tribune, clearly shows the access to information law is a tool used by President Robert Mugabe’s government to censor the privately owned media and silence all dissenting voices.
“This new amendment will just give the courts additional powers to harass and punish. This will confirm Zimbabwe’s status as southern Africa’s worst violator of press freedom.”