Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) on Saturday urged foreign media practitioners to respect the country’s laws when carrying out their duties and denied any wrongdoing in the recent deportation of two New York Times journalists.
Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva, who claimed to work for the New York Times, had arrived in Bulawayo from South Africa on May 5, but were deported 3 days later after it was discovered that they were using fake ZMC cards.
The ZMC said a local colleague of the duo, Jeffrey Moyo, had helped facilitate the fake press cards.
Every foreign journalist intending to work in Zimbabwe is required by law to seek prior clearance before being accredited by the ZMC.
The commission said Moyo had colluded with a ZMC staffer, who is now on forced leave, to obtain the fraudulent press cards.
“On May 10 2021, the ZMC learnt of the deportation from Zimbabwe of a man and a woman claiming to be New York Times reporters and carrying forged accreditation cards and receipts which they reportedly said had been obtained on their behalf by Mr Jeffrey Moyo, at the time a properly accredited local reporter for the same New York Times.
“The arrest and deportation of the two individuals arose from the fact that they lacked papers which in terms of the law they were supposed to obtain as a prerequisite for obtaining temporary local accreditation as journalists,” the ZMC said.
The commission said, further investigations revealed that Goldbaum and Silva’s names did not appear in the ZMC register, and an earlier attempt to secure clearance had been denied.
“The two individuals had written to the relevant authorities to seek the prior clearance papers required before one can work locally as a journalist on temporary assignment. The relevant authorities had denied the two individuals the prior clearance. Therefore, presentation of forged accreditation cards only added to the irregularity of alleged illegal entry.”
The ZMC re-assured its stakeholders that its operations were transparent and were guided by a defined legal framework.
“The fact that the fraudulent accreditation cards were quickly identified by immigration officers and confirmed as fraudulent by the ZMC is testimony of the professional and secure manner in which the ZMC conducts the accreditation.
“It is one of the strategic objectives of the Commission to provide a conducive working environment for both local and visiting media practitioners. At the same time, the Commission calls upon media practitioners, both local and foreign, to respect laws of the country,” it said.