Parly demands police clearance from scribes

HARARE - In a move that has left many in the media industry dumbstruck, Parliament of Zimbabwe is demanding that journalists who intend to cover this year’s sessions of the legislature undergo security vetting, including a police clearance.

This new requirement, which was described by media stakeholders as “disrespectful”, is contained in a letter from Parliament’s principal public relations officer, Tanyaradzwa Linda Manyemba, inviting journalists to come for accreditation.

“The requirements for accreditation are as follows; copy of your ID (identity card) or valid passport, 2 driver’s licence size photos, copy of Media Commission card, fingerprint forms cleared by Zimbabwe Republic Police and supporting letter from your organisation,” reads the invite.

The Daily News could not get a comment from Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda as his mobile phone went unanswered.

But Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj) secretary-general Foster Dongozi said his organisation would be taking the matter up with Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to seek clarification amid fears that authorities were out to muzzle media freedom.

Previously, journalists were not required to be vetted by police as they only had to produce their accreditation cards issued yearly by the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

“That is totally unacceptable in a democracy to have journalists who are accredited to work in the country to be required to be vetted by the police. Parliament needs to respect journalists and not treat us like ordinary criminals when we are doing our legitimate work,” Dongozi said.

He expressed worry that Parliament, “an institution that is supposed to uphold the rule of law and promote the free flow of information, is developing a sickening habit to be hostile to the media”.

“We will engage Mudenda on the matter because it is going too far. Only recently, they wanted to ban the use of cellphones by journalists when phones are tools for our trade. There is need for a harmonious and respectful working relationship between the media and the legislature. Journalists have never asked for vetting certificates from MPs when they interview them and we expect the institution to also reciprocate that”.

In March last year, Parliament security forced journalists to switch off their cell phones and banned their use during sessions prompting Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker, James Maridadi, to raise a compliant noting that the move violated freedom of expression and access to information as enshrined in the Constitution.

Mudenda ruled that journalists should be allowed to use electronic gadgets, including cell phones in the press gallery and those parliamentary rules be amended to reflect the technological advancement in the news gathering process.

Comments (3)

Police state manifests itself. This zanupf govt has got to go on record as the most timid and cowardly govt ever on God's green earth. What are you afraid of?. Mbwende chaidzo. If you deal truthfully you only have to justify your integrity when questioned. Thats the work of the journalist, dummy. Accountability is the hallmark of transparency and success. Reporters help you attain that. We need this mess cleaned up. Where's a Mugufuli when you need one.

Realist - 7 January 2016

Parliamentarians were chosen by people and they represent the people . So what they discuss should not be made secret . Why accrediting journalist when the masses need to know whats going on with respect to developmental issues in the constituencies. MuGABISH IS RUBBISH

Fuckupzim - 8 January 2016

...typical zanu pf regime. An eye for an eye.People at Parly were just upset that their luxury hollidays monies were leaked to the press. There is nothing of importance in that kangaroo house that warrants such heavy haded reponse.

X-MAN IV - 10 January 2016

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