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Law (Codification and Reform) Bill
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2004-48
Monday November 29th – Sunday December 5th
existence of several pieces of repressive legislation curtailing
the citizenry’s basic rights, The Standard (28/11) revealed
the extent to which yet another Draconian Bill will erode freedom
The paper reported
that the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Bill proposes a fine of $5 million
or a jail sentence of up to 20 years for "anyone who
publishes or communicates to another statements that are perceived
to be prejudicial to the State".
law, the paper noted, "will make it extremely difficult
for journalists to operate and will certainly be the most repressive
piece of legislation in Zimbabwe’s Statute books".
Gazette (2/12) and The Daily Mirror (3/12) echoed similar
views in their follow-up reports on the matter. What none of the
media reported however, was that the relevant section of the Bill
is intended to replace similar sections contained in the Public
Order and Security Act but which do not contain the same terrifyingly
But while the
private media at least informed the public of this unprecedented
plan to silence all criticism of the presidency, the uniformed forces
and State interests, the government media conveniently suffocated
the whole issue.
In fact, their
failure to expose the promulgation of such aggressively self-serving
repressive legislation under the guise of upholding the rule of
law and defending the country’s sovereignty, resulted in the official
media allowing Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to defend AIPPA
and the Broadcasting Services Act unchallenged.
ZTV and Power FM (1/12, 8pm) passively quoted Moyo as having said
AIPPA was "meant to protect the sovereignty of the country
from mischievous people intending to use local media as a tool for
this claim, the stations then quoted Moyo trying to give the patently
authoritarian piece of legislation a democratic face by saying that
in any democracy journalists who publish falsehoods are punished
"in terms of the law (that) is permissible by the Constitution"
and that was "the basis of AIPPA".
(2/12) carried a similar report.
And like its
broadcasting counterpart, it allowed Moyo to mislead the public
into believing that AIPPA had sailed smoothly through Parliament.
conveniently failed to remind their audiences of the stormy circumstances
leading to the enactment of the law, which the Parliamentary Legal
Committee had originally found to be so profoundly unconstitutional.
coverage by the official media of this systematic erosion of citizens’
constitutional rights further affirms them as government lapdogs
that cannot be relied upon to provide accurate information.
In fact, their
failure to expose government’s disdain for constitutionally guaranteed
freedoms establishes them firmly as accomplices of the authorities
in the curtailment of these rights.
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