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Zimbabwe orders media to pay higher fees or face prosecution

Government control: The country instituted stringent media laws in 2002 that have led to the arrests of journalists, deportations of foreign correspondents and closures of media organisations.

The Zimbabwean government on Thursday warned journalists and media organisations operating in the African country that they could be prosecuted if they fail to immediately comply with new registration fees that have soared by as much as 300 percent, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has condemned the new fees as 'shocking and retributive,' arguing that they 'can only make journalists go underground or stop practicing.'

'Ordinarily fees for accreditation the world over are a token and not prohibitive,' said the union's secretary general, Foster Dongozi. 'This goes to show how the government is not prepared to make journalists exercise their freedom.'

Foreign media outlets are now required to pay 6,000 US dollars to register in the country, up from 2,500 dollars. Zimbabwean journalists working for the foreign press need to pay an accreditation fee of 400 dollars - up from 100 dollars. Local media organisations, meanwhile, have to pay 500 dollars more than before for new registrations and renewals. Payments have to be made by Friday.

'It is a criminal offence to operate a mass media service without a registration certificate and to work as a journalist without being accredited,' the Zimbabwe Media Commission warned on Thursday.

The country instituted stringent media laws in 2002 that have led to the arrests of journalists, deportations of foreign correspondents and closures of media organisations. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had said last year that Harare would repeal or amend the country's contentious media and security regulations, but that has yet to materialize.

Date posted: January 7, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 114