Zimbabwe Restricts Foreign Coverage of Elections with Outrageous Fees

Zimbabwe Restricts Foreign Coverage of Elections with Outrageous Fees

Common sense suggests that when a house is burning down, the owners do not charge the firefighters an exorbitant fee to enter. Nor do the owners bar the relief brigade from entry and accuse them of spying for the neighbors down the street. When occupants inside the house start dousing the flames on their own, they are not viewed as betrayers and traitors.

Yet that scenario more or less captures the reprehensible attitude of the Zimbabwe government toward the media in advance of today's (March 29) presidential and legislative elections. The Information Ministry has charged reporters at least $1,700 to cover the polls, according to the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa.

In a politely-worded appeal to George Charamba, a presidential spokesman and top Information Ministry official, the association said "never before have such high fees been requested" for an African election.

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