CONSTITUTION WATCH 16/2013
[8th March 2013]
The Referendum – Observers and Media Practitioners
Part II – Accreditation Fees Gazetted
A statutory instrument gazetted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] on 6th March [SI 26A/2013] in a Government Gazette Extraordinary sets the fees for accreditation of observers fixed by ZEC [available from email@example.com]. [Note: The statutory instrument is an amendment to the Electoral Regulations, which, like the Electoral Act itself, are made applicable to referendums by section 10 of the Referendums Act.]
A ZEC press notice published on 7th March adds information about accreditation as follows:
· It states that the gazetted ZEC observers accreditation fees apply to journalists as well. This clarifies something not made clear by either the statutory instrument or last week’s new Referendum Regulations. It means that ZEC accreditation for journalists is also necessary and that journalists have to pay ZEC fees as well as the fees required for their accreditation with the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC] under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA].
· It sets out where and when ZEC accreditation can be obtained.
For clarity the fees for “ordinary” observers and journalist observers are set out separately in the following paragraphs.
“Ordinary” Observers Accreditation Fees
General exemption from fees
Accreditation is free for observers:
(a) representing any African state
(b) from any inter-governmental organisation in Africa
(c) from any organisation in Africa that exercises functions similar to ZEC
Note: this is an exemption from the fee only; accreditation is still essential.
Tariff of fees for other observers
The fees are as follows:
(a) each local observer representing a civil society organisation or faith-based organisation within Zimbabwe, or a Zimbabwe resident seeking accreditation in his or her personal capacity: $10,00
(b) each observer from any other African country representing a civil society organisation or faith-based organisation or a resident in any other African country seeking accreditation in his or her personal capacity: $20, 00
(c) each observer stationed in Zimbabwe representing a diplomatic mission from any country outside Africa: US$50,00
(d) each observer from any country outside Africa: US$300,00
Previously notified position changed
Constitution Watch 12/2013, relying on the provisions of the new Referendum regulations [SI 26/2013] and information from the ZEC office, stated that media practitioners wishing to cover the Referendum would not need accreditation from ZEC. ZEC’s press notice of 7th March changes this situation by treating journalists in the same way as observers, including their having to pay the same ZEC accreditation fees as other observers
The ZEC secretary has confirmed to Veritas that ZEC accreditation of journalists as observers is in addition to their AIPPA accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC] without which they cannot operate as journalists in Zimbabwe.
So ZEC will not accredit journalists as ZEC observers without proof of AIPPA accreditation. Production of an AIPPA accreditation document issued by ZMC is essential.
Tariff of fees for accreditation of journalists by ZEC
These fees are as follows:
(a) local journalist US$10,00
(b) journalist from any African country US$20,00
(c) journalist from outside Africa US$300,00.
This means that a foreign journalist from a country outside Africa who wishes to gain entry to a polling station or counting centre will have to pay an unduly large amount for the privilege, made up as follows: a visa fee to the immigration authorities, plus the $300,00 for ZMC under AIPPA [see Constitution Watch 13/2013 for these ZMC fees], plus the separate $300,00 ZEC observers accreditation fee.
Discretionary Waiver of Fees by ZEC Observers’ Accreditation Committee
The Observers’ Accreditation Committee may, in its discretion, “waive the payment of any fee by any observer or observer group” [SI 26A/2013]. [Comment: As journalists are being treated as observers by ZEC, this discretionary waiver must be available to journalists as well as other categories of observers.]
SI 26A/2013 also provides for the ZEC accreditation period for observers, including journalists. It runs from the date of accreditation until 31st March.
Where and When to Get ZEC Accreditation
ZEC accreditation of local and international observers and journalists can be obtained at the following venues, which will be open daily from now on until 16th March, between 8 am and 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays included:
Harare Harare International Conference Centre, Rainbow Towers Hotel
Bulawayo Windsor Park Building, 12 Centenary Court, Windsor Park, 16th Avenue, Famona
Masvingo Flamboyant Hotel, Beitbridge Road, Masvingo
ZEC Briefing for Observers
A briefing for observers [including journalists]on ZEC’s state of preparedness for the Referendum will be held on 13th March at the Harare International Conference Centre at 10 am.
ZEC contact details
Delivery: ZEC Headquarters, corner Jason Moyo Avenue and Kaguvi Street, Harare
Postal: Private Bag 7782, Causeway, Harare
Telephone numbers: Harare 759130, 774095 or 781903
Fax: 781903 or 770660
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied