Back to Index
on the Association of Independent Journalists case cause for dismay
Fund (MDF) and the Media Lawyers Network (MLN)
February 05, 2004
The Media Defence
Fund (MDF) and the Media Lawyers Network (MLN) are dismayed by the
Supreme Court judgment upholding certain sections of the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as constitutional.
challenge brought by the Independent Journalists Association of
Zimbabwe (IJAZ) against the Minister of State for Information and
Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet as well as
the Media and Information Commission (MIC) sought the nullification
of sections 79, 80, 83 and 85 as unconstitutional. The case was
heard on 21 November 2002 with judgment only being delivered on
6 February 2004, fifteen months after the matter was heard.
Supreme Court noted that freedom of the press is covered in section
20 of the constitution, we express our disappointment that the court
ruled that these sections are still constitutional. The MDF and
MLN believe that these sections pose a serious threat to the operations
of journalists and the media in Zimbabwe.
Godfrey Chidyausiku concurred with justices Cheda, Ziyambi and Malaba
and declared that Sections 79(1)(d) and (2), Sections 80, 83 and
85 to be constitutional. Section 79 deals with the issue of accreditation
of journalists whilst section 83 outlaws the practice of journalism
without accreditation. In his dissenting judgment Justice Wilson
Sandura observed that the application for accreditation by a journalist
is subject to approval by the Permanent Secretary and by the Minister
of Information. This he said entails that accreditation is no longer
an administrative matter only. We note that the powers accorded
the MIC and the Minister amount to quasi-judicial powers. The MIC
and the Minister can decide on whom to and not to accredit therefore,
who can and cannot work as a journalist in Zimbabwe. We question
why the Minister and his permanent secretary would want to approve
an application to practice by a journalist. Such a process is no
longer a mere formality as there is discretion on the part of the
accrediting authorities to accredit or to refuse to accredit.
The MDF and
MLN note with concern that this judgment casts a very dark day for
press freedom in Zimbabwe. We are aware of journalists who have
attempted to apply for accreditation without getting responses from
judgment could be out but it leaves all those who fight for freedom
of expression worse off as all doors to the practicing of journalism
in an enabling society are closed. We reiterate that the sections
upheld by the majority of the bench severely undermine the exercise
of freedom of expression.
The whole Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was not promulgated
in good faith. Its use has been against journalists working in the
privately owned media. We still call upon the responsible authorities
to repeal this Act so that once again Zimbabweans can freely exercise
their right to freedom of expression.
Issued by the
Media Defence Fund and the Media Lawyers Network
Visit the MISA-Zimbabwe
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.