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Journalists without accreditation cards barred from attending opposition press conference

(MISA/IFEX) - Several journalists were on Thursday 9 October 2008 barred from entering the Prime Minister Designate, Morgan Tsvangirai's Strathaven home in Harare for a press conference.

The journalists were barred from entering the premises by security guards on the basis that they had failed to produce accreditation cards from the Media and Information Commission (MIC).

Ironically, the Movement for Democratic Change has in the past criticized the creation of the MIC under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the licensing of journalists by the commission.

The security guards are alleged to have claimed that they had been given instructions from the 'top' not to allow journalists without MIC accreditation cards. Attempts by journalists to explain that they were freelance journalists were fruitless.

The press conference was however, deferred to 10 October 2008.

MISA-Zimbabwe expresses its concern at the continued use of repressive media laws to harass media practitioners while performing their duties especially during this transitional period; and calls for the immediate cessation of harassment and the complete repeal of the restrictive media laws in the country. MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa promised to look into this matter, saying the party will not allow this to happen again. The MDC has in the past spoken strongly against laws such as AIPPA which require journalists to be licensed by a government-appointed MIC. Tens of journalists have been denied accreditation by the MIC on grounds that they work for foreign media organisations or what the government calls the opposition media. Many, commendably, continue to work clandestinely.

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