MAPUTO– Mozambique’s government is set to introduce hefty license fees for local and foreign journalists in an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country.

Foreign correspondents will pay $2,500 (Pound 1,900) per trip for media accreditation while foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8,300 per year.

Mozambican journalists reporting for foreign news outlets will be required to pay $3,500 for an annual accreditation.

This is 50 times more than the country’s statutory minimum wage, estimated at around $70 per month.

In addition, Mozambican freelancers working for foreign publications will be expected to pay $500 annually.

Until now, registration for foreign correspondents in Mozambique has been been almost free.

Typically, media accreditation for foreign correspondents in most African countries is around $100. That’s if it’s required at all.

Most Mozambican individual journalists and media organisations say they were never consulted or informed about the new measure which comes into effect on 22 August.

It will be implemented a month before crucial municipal elections, scheduled for October this year.

Mozambican journalists, reporting for foreign media say they have been invited for a meeting by Gabinfo, the government entity charged with licensing and accrediting media houses and journalists, apparently to get official explanation of the measure.

The new prohibitive fees are described by media managers in Mozambique and abroad as a blatant attack on the press freedom.

They say the fees will squeeze out local independent media and bar foreign press from reporting on Mozambique.

Furthermore, journalists say the new fees are against the current and existing press law and infringes the constitutional rights of the country’s citizens.