MEDIA practitioners have raised concern over the low number of journalists so far accredited to cover the March 26 by-elections, as of Friday last week saying it was likely to deprive citizens of critical electoral information.
“Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) has accredited 488 local observers, 18 foreign observers and four local journalists for the upcoming election activities as at 11 March 2022. Accreditation is being done in Harare and Bulawayo,” Zec tweeted yesterday.
Accreditation was being conducted in the country’s two biggest cities, Harare and Bulawayo only.
Journalists bemoaned duplication of accreditation by Zec after Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) would have done the same.
Others decried centralisation of the accreditation process to Harare and Bulawayo which leaves out journalists covering rural areas.
Media Institute of the Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chairperson Golden Maunganidze said: “Double accreditation by Zec and ZMC is not necessary. ZMC is an independent body competent enough to authorise journalists to cover electoral processes. The issue of double accreditation exposes journalists to unnecessary cumbersome processes that discourage them to cover key governance issues. If we have three by-elections in a year, then journalists need to be accredited three times. Journalists have also not been issued their 2022 ZMC accreditation cards, which may create problems when gathering information.”
Young Journalists Association spokesperson, Leopold Munhende said: “The accreditation has started on a low note which is worrisome. If we have a few journalists covering elections, citizens will have challenges in accessing important information. Journalists that were accredited by the ZMC should be allowed to cover the by-elections. Zec must decentralise.”