MDC Blasts Accreditation Of Journalists

HARARE, – The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has criticised some government officials for insisting that journalists intending to cover the Investment Conference in Harare should be accredited by the defunct Media and Information Commission.

In a statement, the MDC said the High Court order which declared the MIC a legal nullity should be respected, especially by the inclusive government which should be seen to be doing business in a different way.

"A government that is enticing serious businesspersons to invest in the country cannot be seen to be defying court orders. It is ironic that the inclusive government, which is trying to woo investors, including those wishing to invest in the media, would bar the same media persons from doing their work unless they are accredited by an illegal body.

"Justice Bharat Patel’s ruling was clear and unambiguous that the MIC is a nullity. The government cannot allow a non-existent body to extort money from journalists. The only message the government would be sending to investors is that Zimbabwe is still caught up in the yester-year mode of lack of respect for the rule of law," the MDC said.

The part indicated that Zimbabwe has lost much as a nation ‘for our disrespect for the rule of law’, indicating that the inclusive government cannot allow a few mischievous elements to stand in the way of press freedom, media plurality and diversity.

"We call upon the inclusive government to immediately constitute the Zimbabwe Media Commission so that dead bodies such as the Media and Information Commission cannot be resurrected by delinquent senior civil servants who want to scuttle the work of the inclusive government," the MDC said.

Four journalists who were barred from covering the COMESA summit in June sued Information Minister Webster Shamu and his permanent secretary George Charamba, for contempt of court.

This followed a ruling by High Court Judge Bharat Patel that the Media and Information Commission (MIC), led by Tafataona Mahoso, was now a defunct body and no journalist should be required to register with it.

Security agents at the summit ignored the court order being waved in front of them and turned the journalists away. They insisted the group were not on the Ministry of Information’s list of journalists accredited to cover the summit.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced in May that journalists were now free to report on Zimbabwe without government approval since the MIC had been legally disbanded in 2008. He was promptly contradicted by Information Minister Shamu who warned of arrest for those without accreditation.

The Zimbabwe International Investment Conference, which is being held under the theme “Zimbabwe: Redefining Business and Investment Environment” is aimed at projecting Zimbabwe as a conducive investment destination in sub-Saharan Africa. The conference started Thursday and will end Friday.

The conference is also meant to entice investment to increase output and employment and facilitate sustainable economic growth, exports and poverty reduction and will be attended by 100 world-renowned financiers.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara Thursday addressed the indaba on the formation of the inclusive government, their commitment to it, implementation of the global political agreement and would also explain their working relationship.

Also lined up to speak at the conference are the finance and economic ministry ministers Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and Elton Mangoma, business magnates and executives; and academics.