Journalists on duty are allowed to operate during the 21-day lockdown using their 2019 Press cards until the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) issues them with new ones, a top police officer has said.
Some journalists countrywide yesterday said they were being harassed, while others said they were turned away at roadblocks by police officers disregarding their 2019 Press cards as invalid.
Each year, journalists are accredited by ZMC and issued with Press cards valid for one year, but the regulating authority is yet to accredit media practitioners for this year.
In fact, ZMC early this year issued a statement advising on the validity of the 2019 Press cards, as the commission was still sorting out its affairs in preparation for this year's accreditation.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi clarified the issue following a brief "arrest" of a Gweru-based journalist for operating using a 2019 Press card.
Asst Comm Nyathi said 2019 Press cards were still valid and no journalist should be disturbed on the basis of having an "expired" card.
"We have taken note of the purported arrest of a journalist in Gweru on account of an expired accreditation card," he said.
"Police General Headquarters has intervened after consultation with the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.
"All journalists with such expired cards are free to conduct their duties without hindrance. We have since communicated this information to all our stations.
"We have a direct communication mechanism with media bodies who should feel free to contact us in case of any challenges."
Asst Comm Nyathi said journalists should work in a conducive environment without any hindrance.
He urged journalists to identify themselves whenever they are covering events where law enforcement agents will be operating to avoid misunderstandings.
"On the other hand, journalists should not manifest confrontational attitudes towards law enforcement agents while they perform their duties," Asst Comm Nyathi said.
ZMC recently gazetted 2020 registration fees for accreditation of journalists, with locals required to pay $120 for a new applicant, $80 renewal and $50 for card replacement.
Local journalists working for foreign media houses will pay their accreditation fee of US$200.
The rates are effective from January 1, 2020.
This was contained in Statutory 79 of 2020 titled access to Information and Protection of Privacy (Registration, Accreditation and Levy) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No. 8).
Application for a foreign journalist manning a representative office of a foreign media service is US$300. While the fee for a temporary accreditation for a foreign journalist is US$150.
The fee for extension of accreditation period is US$50, while productions or projects will attract a US$2 000 fee.
According to the Gazette, there would be a special accreditation fee for those from the Southern Africa Development Community bloc at US$30, while the rest of Africa pays US$50 and others US$100.