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Chinamasa forced to drop ‘retrogressive’ clauses
Paidamoyo Muzulu, Zimbabwean Independent
April 08, 2011
Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa was on Wednesday forced
to drop certain clauses in the General Amendment Bill which threatened
media freedom and the smooth operations of local authorities.
The Bill had
sought to introduce minor changes to 17 different pieces of legislation,
among them the Copyright and Neighbouring Act, Urban
Councils Act, Rural District Councils Act, Procurement Act,
Parks and Wildlife Act, Police Act and Health Services Act.
amendments related to copyrighting public documents such as statutes,
court judgments and the Government Gazette, among other state publications.
Local authorities were to purchase goods and contract services through
the State Procurement Board under the proposed amendments.
Chinamasa told parliament that he was withdrawing all amendments
cited as retrogressive in a democratic state. He said he would further
consult on amendments on local government procurement with the relevant
“I also agree with your comments Honourable (Douglas) Mwonzora
on the Copyright Act. This is something that we had already decided
in my ministry that we should not amend the Copyright Act. “I
am going to withdraw this clause or any reference to procurement
so that I allow the two responsible ministers, that is the Minister
of Local Government and Urban Development and the Minister of Finance
who is responsible for the Procurement Act. I would then ask them
to bring in a separate Act of Parliament,
a separate Bill to deal with this issue so that it can receive the
attention that it deserves.”
Mwonzora, the Justice Portfolio Committee chairman, had attacked
the Copyright and Neighbouring Amendment Act as detrimental to freedom
of information as enshrined in international conventions and the
heard that in 2000, the BEN Convention in Geneva said every citizen
has the right to free access to all the laws and statutes of that
country. The committee is concerned that the proposal violates Section
20(1) of the Constitution.
Section 20(1) of the Constitution provides as follows: Except with
his own consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall
be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that
is to say, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas
and information without interference,” said Mwonzora.
Portfolio Committee chairperson Lynette Kurenyi said her committee
was sceptical of the proposed amendments to procurement of goods
by local authorities.
She said her committee believed the changes would bring unnecessary
centralisation and corruption in the procurement of goods and services.
Kurenyi said: “To this end, your committee recommends the
following: that the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs withdraws
the amendments and or proposed repeals relating to local authorities
procurement as it is against the spirit of decentralisation and
equitable distribution of wealth. The Ministry of Local Government
Rural and Urban Development should come up with a model procurement
by-law for use by all Local Authorities.”
Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee to be further
scrutinised if the amendments made were consistent with the Constitution
before being brought back for its third reading.
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