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ON the same day
that the democratic world was commemorating International Human Rights
Day on December 10, Zimbabweans woke up to the news that ZANU PF had
once again used its majority in Parliament to force through more repressive
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2004-49
Monday December 6th – Sunday December 12th
The Daily Mirror
(10/12) reported that among the legislation that had "sailed
through" the House were the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Bill, the NGO Bill and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Bill, all of which were previously found to contain several unconstitutional
provisions by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Herald (10/12) and ZTV (10/12, 8pm) reported this development they
only announced the passage of the NGO and ZEC Bills and ignored
the progress of other legislation.
was their failure to clearly explain the patently undemocratic nature
of the new laws, which further erode Zimbabweans’ constitutionally
ironically presented the ZEC Bill as an indication of government’s
commitment to align its electoral laws with the SADC guidelines
on the holding of democratic elections.
was hardly surprising because it echoed the sentiments of government
officials. For instance, in his State of the Nation address, which
the government-controlled broadcaster covered live (9/12), President
Mugabe stated that he was "happy" that laws such as the
ZEC Bill "have made us more than compliant with the standards
and guidelines we developed, agreed to, and adopted, as SADC".
media, however, disputed these claims, noting that the new pieces
of legislation, together with several existing oppressive laws,
would further shrink democratic space in Zimbabwe, thereby quashing
any prospects of a free and fair election next year.
The Daily Mirror
(10/12), for example, quoted members of the civic society condemning
the new laws, particularly the NGO Bill which they described as
yet another piece of legislation that would further curtail citizens’
commentators expressed similar views on Studio 7 (10/12).
station (9/12) reported that the International Council of Advocates
and Barristers’ report on the state of the justice system in Zimbabwe
had revealed that the country’s judiciary "has become profoundly
compromised over the past four years" and had thus "ceased
to be independent and impartial".
It was against
such background that The Standard (12/12) contended that while the
world was commemorating International Human Rights Day, there was
"no cause for celebrating" the day in Zimbabwe.
The paper cited
a Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum report, which revealed that 51
abductions, 288 assaults and three extra-judicial executions were
recorded between January and August this year to demonstrate the
extent to which the country’s human rights record had deteriorated.
Instead of reporting
on the Forum’s findings, The Sunday Mail (12/12) simply attempted
to discredit them out-of-hand by using unnamed "observers"
to cynically dismiss the report as a "complete joke fit only
for the dustbin" because the human rights organisation had
"interviewed itself for its imperialistic and dirty ends".
details on the contents of the report, the paper then used the Forum’s
acknowledgment of the problems it faced in verifying some of the
data to further insult the organisation’s findings as "laughable".
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