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to AIPPA forced through Parliament
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2004-44
Monday November 1st - Sunday November 7th 2004
AS this report
was being completed an amendment to the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was forced through Parliament,
which now provides for a custodial penalty and/or a fine for journalists
practising this so-called "privilege" without a licence
from the government-appointed Media and Information Commission.
Act (as amended) omitted to provide a penalty for this offence identified
in the law.
So instead of
repealing this repressive legislation to conform to the SADC principles
and guidelines on elections encouraging media diversity and the
free flow of information, the government has added to the repressive
nature of the law by imposing a completely disproportionate penalty
for what, at best, should be a petty administrative matter. This
law should not even be on Zimbabwe’s statute books, let alone providing
for intimidating custodial penalties for the unreasonably restrictive
provisions contained in the Act.
the fact that The Herald (10/11) reported that this latest amendment
"sailed" through Parliament, this would not have been
the case if government officials had not broken Parliament’s own
rules on voting procedures.
While The Herald
(10/11) briefly and vaguely referred to opposition party objections
to the vote as a result of the late arrival of ruling party MPs,
The Daily Mirror of the same day gave a more accurate picture to
this latest example of the authorities’ disdain for the law - ironically
perpetrated under the guise of enacting legislation meant to maintain
law and order.
In its story,
Pandemonium in Parliament, the Mirror reported that despite regulations
barring late arrivals, some ZANU PF MPs who were not in the chamber
at the time voting began were allowed in to cast their votes on
the amendments after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo threatened
parliamentary officials with unspecified action.
of the media questioned whether this latest incident was redolent
of a total disregard for democratic principles and the due process
of the law by ruling party officials.
none of the media reminded the public of similar incidents in which
ruling party MPs suspended parliamentary procedures to ram through
unconstitutional laws that clearly should not have a place in the
statutes of a country whose government repeatedly claims to be democratic
and respectful of the rule of law.
In fact, the
authorities’ strident claims that they adhere to the rule of law
are further belied by their open defiance of several court orders
seeking to protect the rights of individuals, the most recent example
being their defiance of an interdict preventing the deportation
of the South African trade union delegation (Cosatu) that visited
Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission recently.
The media have
not properly examined how these cumulative violations of court orders
by government undermine the rule of law in the country.
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