18 March 2013

Zimbabwe: At Least 30 Foreign Journalists Accredited for Referendum

At least 30 foreign journalists from different countries were accredited to cover the just-ended constitutional referendum, with only one turned down for failure to adhere to application rules.

The turned down journalist, Anita Powell of the Voice of America, came into the country before she was cleared.

"The applicant was not cleared mainly because she flew into the country before being officially advised about the outcome of her application," said the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity.

"Once journalists are in the country without prior clearance, the norm is to ask them to exit the country in order to further process their applications in terms of standing regulations."

Those accredited were from news organisations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, ARD German Radio, France 24, NRC Handelsbald (Dutch newspaper), RFI of France and SkyNews.

Others were from The New York Times, Sunday Telegraph of UK, The Economist magazine and Al Jazeera Network.

From the region, those accredited were from eNews Channel Africa of South Africa, SABC, TV Continental of South Africa and The Sunday Times, again from South Africa.

The Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity facilitates the clearance and accreditation of foreign journalists.

The journalists are expected to apply through Zimbabwean embassies in their countries and in some cases they can apply directly to the ministry.

The application letter would be addressed to the permanent secretary in the ministry stating the applicant's full names, gender, passport numbers, organisation/media house represented, designation, work station, contact details, nature of assignment and specific coverage dates in Zimbabwe.

The ministry would then respond to the application through the embassy or directly to the applicant.

"A journalist who has applied for accreditation, but has not yet received a response from the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity should not travel to Zimbabwe until the clearance has been obtained," the regulations state.

"Clearances usually take at least 10 working days to be granted, therefore, journalists are advised to apply in advance.

"Depending on the requirements of different countries, the journalist produces the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity clearance at the embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe or at the port of entry to be issued with a relevant visa."

The foreign journalists should visit the Zimbabwe Media Commission for accreditation on a project basis once they are in the country.

The concerned journalists should liaise with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to financially guarantee the re-exportation of their equipment.

Those intending to import video-graphic and live broadcasting equipment should first be cleared and licensed at a fee by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

The 30 accredited journalists covered the referendum that was held on Saturday and many of them were still in the country waiting for the results to be released.

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