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POSA, BSA amendments signed into law
January 12, 2008
to the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) gazetted on 14 December 2007 have been signed
into law by President Robert Mugabe after they were fast tracked
through Parliament on 18 December 2007 without any meaningful debate
on the contentious provisions of the enabling Bills.
an extraordinary gazette published late on Friday 11 January 2008,
all the Bills which included the Electoral
Laws Amendment Act have been assented to by the President.
The government on 14 December 2007 published proposed amendments
to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting Services
amendment Bills contained in the extraordinary gazette reflect no
serious intentions on the part of government to democratise the
laws in question dwelling instead on inconsequential issues which
will not advance basic freedoms such as the right to freedom of
expression, media freedom and freedom of assembly and association.
to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill proposes
to make changes to those parts of AIPPA dealing with media regulation
and accreditation of journalists without among other issues addressing
the right to access information held by public bodies.
Under the Bill
the Media and Information Commission will be reconstituted as the
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). The ZMC will now consist of nine
members appointed by the President from a list of persons nominated
by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. These
members will be chosen on the basis of their knowledge of and experience
in the press, print or electronic media or broadcasting.
There is no
provision for existing board members to continue in office under
the proposed new Commission.
of the ZMC are stated as “to uphold and develop the freedom
of the press”, as well as “to promote and enforce good
practice and ethics in the press, print and electronic media, and
broadcasting” and ensuring that the people of Zimbabwe have
“equitable and wide access to information”. The Commission
retains the functions of registering mass media and news agencies,
accrediting journalists, investigating complaints against media
persons and services and reviewing decisions of public bodies regarding
access to information.
It also proposes
the establishment of a Media Council, appointed by the ZMC, which
will be chaired by a member of the Commission. It will consist of
12 other members, representing various sectors nominated by associations
representative of those sectors; two members representing accredited
journalists, two representing advertisers and advertising agencies,
representatives of mass media trainers, churches, businesspeople,
trade unions, women’s groups, youth groups, the legal profession
and tertiary educational institutions.
The Media Council
will work with the Media Commission in developing and enforcing
a code of conduct and ethics to be observed by journalists and mass
The Media Council
will, if so required by the Commission, follow up complaints against
mass media services and journalists, whether accredited or not.
In the event of breach of the code the Council will recommend a
penalty for imposition by the Commission. Penalties include monetary
penalties, payment of the expenses incurred by Council and Commission,
suspension of accreditation [suspension from practice for an unaccredited
journalist], cancellation of mass media service registration and
publication of apologies or corrections in the case of “injurious
the decision of the Media Council can be lodged with the Administrative
of Information and Publicity will have the power, in his absolute
discretion, to relax the provision, stated in Section 65 of the
principal Act, that only mass media services controlled by Zimbabweans
may be registered.
The period of
registration of a mass media service is extended from two to five
may still be refused for previously operating without being registered.
Renewal may be refused only if a mass media service has been convicted
of “abuse of freedom of expression”, has failed to notify
the Commission of changes in its registered particulars, or has
failed to publish a correction of harmful untruthful information
published by it.
The new Section
78 lists the privileges of accredited journalists, including access
to Parliament and public bodies, attendance at national events and
public events, and making audio and photographic recordings of such
events. Unaccredited journalists will not enjoy the privileges listed
and will be barred from full-time employment by mass media services
and news agencies operating in Zimbabwe.
The new Section
79 deals with procedures for accreditation by the Media Commission.
Accredited journalists must as a general rule be citizens or permanent
residents of Zimbabwe. There is provision for temporary accreditation
for non-citizens/non-residents for up to 60 days (up from the present
30 days), with the possibility of extension.
Services Amendment Bill comes up with a new section which provides
for the reconstitution of the present Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ). The BAZ will now consist of 12 members appointed
by the President after consultation with the Minister and the Committee
on Standing Rules and Orders. Members shall be constituted as follows:
- Two shall
be persons chosen for their experience or professional qualifications
in the field of broadcasting technology and broadcasting content.
- A chief
- A lawyer
- A public
- A representative
of churches or other religious bodies
- Three other
- Three other
members shall be appointed by the President from a list of six
nominees submitted by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
In the event
that any group, council or the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders
fails or refuses to submit any nomination upon being requested to
do so by the Minister, the Bill mandates the President to proceed
to appoint the members of BAZ. It, however, does not specify the
criteria of those whom the President will have the prerogative to
The Bill proposes
a new section which has a detailed statement of the purpose and
objectives of the Act for the guidance of BAZ. It proposes the ensurance
of efficient use of broadcasting services bands as well as the encouragement
of the establishment of modern and effective broadcasting infrastructure
taking into account the convergence of information technology, news
media, telecommunications and consumer electronics.
The Bill also proposes the transference of some of the Minister’s
powers to BAZ.
Order and Security Amendment Bill (POSA) amends the law relating
to public meetings, processions and demonstrations. One of the proposed
changes to POSA is that those who intend to organise public meetings,
political rallies or demonstrations will now appeal to a magistrates’
court if the regulating authority (police) prohibit them from holding
the planned meetings or demonstrations. Presently, they are required
to appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs.
A new section
prohibits gatherings in the vicinity of Parliament, a court or any
protected place or area declared as such in terms of the Protected
Areas and Places Act unless permission is given by the Speaker,
Chief Justice, Judge President or responsible authority of the protected
The POSA Amendment
Bill proposes to make mandatory the requirement for the police to
give notice to the organiser of an affected public gathering where
they have evidence that disorder may ensue if the gathering is allowed
to take place. Police will be required to enter into dialogue with
the organisers of the gathering before prohibiting the meeting from
are required to give seven days’ written notice ahead of planned
gatherings to a senior police officer designated as the regulatory
authority for the area concerned.
4 will be amended to deem that notice to have been properly given
if it is delivered to the most senior officer present at the nearest
police station close to the place where the gathering is proposed
to be held.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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