MISA Mozambique welcomes repeal of restrictive decree on media

MISA Mozambique has welcomed the Mozambican government’s decision to repeal a decree that substantially increased fees for the licencing and renewal of media outlets.

In a statement, the organisation said Decree 40/18 “breached fundamental rights” such as freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right to information and threatened the survival of the media in the southern African country.

“MISA-Mozambique considers that the Government's decision represents recognition of the legitimacy of these concerns,” the organisation said.

Had the decree been implemented, journalists would have had to pay yearly accreditation fees. A foreign correspondent would have been hardest hit, having to pay 500 000 MZN which is about US $7260.

“The decree was approved by the Government, without prior consultation with the media, media organisations and journalists themselves,” MISA Mozambique said in the press statement.

A Club of Mozambique article said the Mozambique government justified their introduction of the decree as a means of responding to “market circumstances and the need to impose discipline in the sector.”

MISA Mozambique executive director Ernesto Nhanale told frayintermedia that the government had sought to control the media through the decree which was unconstitutional.

On those grounds, MISA Mozambique banded with civil society organizations, representatives of media companies and journalists such as the Association of Journalistic Companies, National Forum of Community Radios, Centre for Public Integrity, Mozambican Bar Association and the Emergency Committee for the Protection of Fundamental Freedoms and “submitted a petition, under the legal sponsorship of the Honourable Ombudsman, for a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the aforementioned decree” in August last year.

“Imagine if we didn’t publicly denounce the decree. It could have remained,” Nhanale said.

Mozambique ranks 101 out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index which says: “Press freedom is in retreat in Mozambique and it is hard to know whether Filipe Nyusi’s reelection as president and a fragile peace deal with former army rebels will reverse this trend”.

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