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legal implications of accreditation or non-accreditation of journalists
under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Irene Petras on behalf of MISA-Zimbabwe Chapter
October 19, 2002
© reserved -
Irene Petras October 2002
is entitled to be accredited?
order for a journalist to be accredited he must be:
- a citizen
of Zimbabwe; or
- a permanent
resident in terms of the Immigration Act (meaning he must
hold a valid permanent resident permit issued by the Ministry
of Home Affairs and adhere to the conditions specified in the
- any other
person who is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident, although
such person is only entitled to be accredited for a limited period
of time. The period is not stipulated in the Act at present, but
section 19 of the Amendment Bill seeks to limit the period to
a maximum of 30 days.
must then also satisfy the Commission that:
- he has complied
with the prescribed formalities; and
- that he possesses
the prescribed qualifications
before he is
accredited and issued with a press card.
can apply for accreditation either individually or means of his
employment by a mass media service (defined in terms of the Act)
or a news agency (a news agency remains undefined).
Apart from these
stipulations, the Act is silent on how the Commission shall consider
the application for accreditation. The use of the word ‘may’ in
section 79(5) indicates that the Commission has discretion as to
whether to accredit a journalist. However, one could, if refused
accreditation, argue that reference be made to section 69(1), which
sets out the only reasons why a mass media service cannot be registered.
These are all technical irregularities related to the application
itself, and it could be argued that it is unfair to discriminate
between limitations on registering a media house and those used
to accredit its journalists. What grounds are used for one should
be used for the other.
Of great concern
in the Amendment Bill is the clause1
seeking to introduce a new section dealing with appeals to the Administrative
Court, which includes the provision that even if the court finds
that the journalist should not have been denied accreditation by
the Commission the journalist will not be automatically accredited,
but rather the application will once again be placed before the
Commission for re-determination – giving them a second bite at the
25 of the Amendment Bill, which seeks to introduce a new section 90A
in the principal Act entitled "Appeals to Administrative Court"
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