The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has told stakeholders that it has not yet issued Accreditation Cards for journalists and other media practitioners for the year 2020. This has been caused by the delay in the gazetting of accreditation and registration fees.
The statement comes after freelance journalist Kudzai Musengi was arrested and detained at Gweru Central Police Station for allegedly carrying out his work with an expired media accreditation card.
Fees for the accreditation of journalists were published in the Government Gazette of 27 March 2020. The Commission had planned to start issuing journalists and other media practitioners with accreditation cards starting 1 April 2020. This has been suspended owing to the national lockdown which is in place.
Journalists were advised to continue using their 2019 accreditation cards. All stakeholders were also advised to accept and recognise journalists using 2019 accreditation cards.
The Commission called upon the security sector to protect and ensure the safety of journalists during this period as their work is greatly needed in the fight against the coronavirus.
“The role of information during the fight against Covid-19 cannot be overemphasised. It is in this regard that the media in its entirety is seen as a critical component in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
“It is the media which is carrying the information about the virus to the entire Zimbabwean population. The Commission would like to applaud the media for the role it has thus far played in educating and informing the Zimbabwean people about Covid-19,” ZMC said in a statement.
This notwithstanding, the Commission noted that most of the information being channelled and the platforms being utilised are mostly aimed at the urban population leaving out rural and farming communities that constitute the majority of Zimbabweans.
“The strategies being carried by the media seem mostly to cater to the urban population. There is a need for the authorities to come up with strategies to fight the virus for the rural population who might not have access to sanitizers, gloves, face masks etc. Most of the rural population does not have access to mainstream media.”
The Commission noted some high levels of disinformation being spread through some social media platforms and called upon Zimbabweans to be responsible and considerate when posting something on social media.
“Media is a powerful tool in propagating any viewpoint and this power should come with the appropriate measure of responsibility. The Commission calls upon Zimbabweans to verify what they can read and download from some social media platforms. To fight Ciovid-19, Zimbabweans are being encouraged to source information from platforms that are credible,” ZMC said.