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of Amendments to AIPPA
of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe)
May 30, 2003
a result of an adverse report passed by the Parliamentary Legal
Committee on some sections of the AIPPA amendment Bill, The Minister
of Information and Publicity, Jonathan Mayo made some amendments
to the Bill. The amendments are largely concessions the minister
made as far as the Bill is concerned. The contentious and controversial
elements of the Bill however remain the same. Below is the analysis
of the amendments and MISA-Zimbabwe comments. MISA-Zimbabwe notes
that these amendments carry some changes, the organization submitted
to both parliamentarians and the Minister that they be looked into.
The AIPPA amendment
Bill will be debated in Parliament on 10 June. Parliamentarians
asked for more time to read the changes made to the original Bill
before debating it. Opposition Members of Parliament, through the
Chief Whip, Hon Innocent Gonese, however argued that the whole Bill
be thrown out and that AIPPA be repealed. Ruling party, ZANU PF
Chief Whip, Hon Jorum Gumbo was however of the view that AIPPA needs
to the perfected rather than repealed.
of the Amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act Bill
of a "mass medium"
original amendment Bill defined "mass medium".
We submitted to the Parliamentary Committee of Transport
and Communication that there was no need for this definition to
be included in the Act, as there was no reference anywhere within
the Act to "a mass medium" or. To retain the definition
would only add to the uncertainty and create further confusion.
We therefore suggested to the Committee that the definition be removed
We are therefore
pleased to note that the definition has now fallen away in the amendment
to the amendment.
7 of the original bill
clause was dealing with the composition of the Media and Information
Committee. The clause sought to give the Minister the power to select
ALL the members who sit on the MIC by deleting the provision that
sought to bring in at least three other members nominated by an
association of journalists and an association of media houses. This
provision has now been deleted from the Bill in its entirety.
In our submissions
to the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Communication, we
had argued against the provision highlighting how the current scenario
of the Media and Information Commission presently having all of
its board members hand-picked by the Minister of Information and
Publicity, would result in it being partisan and non-independent.
It was our argument that the proposed scenario would deny the media
profession the basic right to choose any representatives to sit
on the body that will regulate their affairs. We compared the situation
with what transpires in other countries in Southern Africa and found
- In South
Africa an independent Press and Ombudsman and Appeal Panel that
enforce journalists’ ethical standards regulate journalists.
- In Malawi
and Tanzania journalists established a system of self-regulation,
which governs their own business and enforces their ethical standards.
The regulatory body has a majority of board members democratically
elected by the profession itself.
We also put
it that other professional bodies such as architects, land surveyors,
legal practitioners, quantity surveyors, veterinary surgeons, engineers,
medical and dental practitioners, pharmacists, and estate agents,
all have a majority of board members who are democratically elected
by the profession itself. Government appointed members are always
in the minority if any.
We are therefore
pleased to note that the Minister, on the advise of the Parliamentary
Legal Committee has seen and accepted our side of the story resulting
in the removal of the proposed amendment.
Clause 11 of the original amendment bill
the original amendment, the clause sought to withdraw permission
from owners of mass media services publishing newspapers for sale
for mass circulation from continuing owning local mass media services
after 31 January 2002. In addition, the original amendment also
sought to afford such persons disqualified from owning local mass
media services three months within which to dispose of their ownership
interest to persons who are qualified. This provision has now disappeared
from the amendment to the amendment.
In our submissions
to the Parliamentary Portifolio Committee on Transport and Communication,
Minister Moyo and the PLC we noted that the main aim of the clause
was to limit ownership of mass media services to citizens of Zimbabwe,
permanent residents of Zimbabwe among others. The additional condition
being introduced by that bill sought to suggest that one may remain
being an owner of a mass media service as long as the mass media
service of which he is owner does not publish a newspaper for sale
for mass circulation.
questioned as to why only mass media owners of mass circulation
newspapers were being targeted in this manner. In the absence of
specified reasons that are reasonably justifiable in a democratic
society, we submitted that this would clearly be discriminatory
and as such unconstitutional.
We are also
pleased to note that the Minister, through the advice probably received
from the Parliamentary Legal Committee found favour with our submissions
and did away with this very offending clause.
3 of the original amendment
clause seeks to amend Section 22 of AIPPA. There are slight changes
to the provisions as they appeared in the Original Amendment.
to the amendment proposes to delete the heading of the section that
reads, "Protection of Information relating to personal or public
safety." It is sought to substitute with a new heading that
reads, "Protection of Information relating to personal safety."
In addition, the revised Bill will seek to have deleted Section
22(1) of AIPPA that granted the head of any public body upon request,
the power to refuse to disclose information should s/he be of the
view that disclosure would endanger the public in any way.
It is noted
that both deletions would be better accommodated in the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) and not AIPPA. It is hoped that the Minister
will continue to realise that AIPPA cannot substitute the Constitution
and as such should not come up with laws which apply to other Statutes.
Clause 10 of the amendment
original amendment introduced a new Section 64 after repealing the
one that was in the Act. However the amendment to the amendment
further amends the Section. The new section deals with the issue
of Abuse of freedom of expression. We had submitted that there is
no need for the substituted provision because the offences outlined
in each of the subsections are adequately catered for within the
confines of the common law offence/ civil law remedies. It was our
argument that attempts to criminalize behavior in which relief may
be obtained in a punitive damages order rather than through unnecessarily
harsh imprisonment terms would be adjudged to contravene the right
to freedom of expression, and would not be capable of protection
under the provisions of section 20(2) of the Constitution. Whilst
we had recommended that the section be removed in its entirety,
the section has been brought with harsher penalties. The amendment
to the amendment changes the penalty provision from being a level
7 fine to a level 14 fine (maximum is level 15) with the alternative
prison term being increased from two years to three years.
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