The SA National Editors' Forum condemns the Zimbabwean government's
barring of South Africa's major independent TV station eTV from
covering the final stages of that country's presidential and
parliamentary elections, according to a media release.
ETV Editor-in-chief Debora Patta confirmed that the broadcaster had been informed of the ban but that no reasons were given.
Zimbabwe has imposed selective accreditation of foreign media seeking to enter the country to cover the elections. E.TV was told on Tuesday March 25 that its application had been refused. Zimbabwe's state-owned Sunday Mail, which first reported the ban, said the reason was that the broadcaster had previously breached media and security laws in a report on diamond smuggling last year. ETVÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Zimbabwe-born reporter was fined at the time for operating without authorisation as required by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Sanef acknowledges the broadcaster's previous offence but notes that the penalty was paid and that this offence should not now be held against the broadcaster.
Sanef also notes that the ban conflicts with Section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which states that "no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference …'' It also conflicts with other international protocols such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights on which Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has relied on occasion in freedom of expression issues.
Sanef believes that this ban detracts from Zimbabwe's claim to hold free and fair elections.
Issued by: SA National Editors' Forum (SANEF)
For more comment please contact:
Raymond Louw ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ SANEF Media Freedom Sub-Committee Chair: 011 646 8790 / 082 446 5155