In 2018, the Mozambican government issued a decree which imposed prohibitively high fees for media accreditation. Foreign media practitioners were required to pay $2 500 per trip to Mozambique while resident foreign correspondents were charged $8 000 annually. When the decree was issued, journalists noted that previously the accreditation fee amounted to just $5 a year, indicating a massive increase. On 21 May 2020, the fee was revoked following a Constitutional Court ruling that the increase was unconstitutional.
Local media houses, including community radio stations, were also faced with a staggering increase in media accreditation fees, a stumbling block for under-resourced local media in one of the poorest African countries. The president of the media regulation body, the Conselho Superior da Comunicação Social, opined that the fees were “illegal” as they had the effect of hindering freedom of expression as enshrined in the Mozambican Constitution. Media representatives stated that the fee increase would have dire consequences for access to information and imperil the survival of media institutions. There were concerns too, for the fate of community media outlets as these are often the only sources of information for poor and remote communities.
Media practitioners further noted that the fee increase was announced without prior consultation with stakeholders and they only learned of it on its publication in the government gazette.
The Mozambican chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has welcomed the revocation of the decree. Media accreditation licenses are now free, however, $7 must be paid for an accreditation card.