Reporters Without Borders protested today against the Zimbabwean government’s refusal to renew the work permit of Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist Griffin Shea and accused the information ministry of being hostile to the media.
"Once again, your office has shown it is not working for the press and its journalists, but against them," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to information minister Jonathan Moyo. He added that Moyo had "continually attacked journalists since he took office and considered that only reporters in the state-owned media did their job properly."
Ménard called on the minister to renew the Shea’s work permit and that of any other journalist who requested a renewal. He noted that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had been put of Reporters Without Borders’ worldwide list of predators of press freedom.
The AFP bureau in Harare announced today that the application of Shea, an American, had been rejected. His work permit expires on 14 September, after which he will no longer be able to work in the country. AFP added that the work permit of its Harare bureau chief was also coming up for renewal, at the end of November.
The Zimbabwean authorities have waged a wholesale campaign of harassment of local and foreign journalists for more than two years now. About 50 journalists have been arrested since January last year and three foreign correspondents forced to leave the country.
Two repressive new laws were passed earlier this year, including a new press law that makes working conditions very difficult for foreign journalists. Work permits are now harder to get and are issued for only very short periods.