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Court upholds controversial media law
of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe)
February 05, 2004
Supreme court ruled on 5 February 2004, that the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is constitutional, casting
a dark shadow over the future of the independent media in Zimbabwe.
In his ruling,
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said that sections 79,83 and 85
of AIPPA are constitutional. The sections provide for accreditation
of journalists, outlaw practising journalism without accreditation
and empower a government appointed body, the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to develop and enforce a code of conduct respectively.
Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) took the MIC and the
Minister of Information to the Supreme Court in November 2002, seeking
the nullification of these sections on the basis that they are unconstitutional
and impinge of their rights to free expression. IJAZ also challenged
section 80 of AIPPA, but this section was amended before the judgement.
judge, Wilson Sandura however passed a dissenting judgement arguing
that all the sections cited by IJAZ are unconstitutional. Judge
Sandura said that they are enough remedies in Zimbabwe common law
for those offended by the media to seek recourse. He added that
the accreditation of journalist prescribed in AIPPA goes beyond
administrative purposes as it involves the approval of the Minister
and his permanent secretary plus the payment of fees.
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