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not brains behind AIPPA - Charamba
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Windhoek
April 01, 2005
Information and Publicity George Charamba has said his department
was the brains behind the research which culminated in the drafting
and eventual enactment of the controversial Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
in Harare this week, Charamba said contrary to widespread speculation
that his former boss, Professor Jonathan Moyo, had masterminded
the crafting of AIPPA, it was actually the result of initiatives
and extensive research conducted by officers in the department of
information in the President's Office.
that he was proud to be associated with AIPPA, especially after
the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality
of the sections that were being challenged by Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily
News on Sunday.
of AIPPA, which has been condemned as impinging on media freedom
and freedom of expression, has seen the closure of the independent
Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times by
the government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).
Zanu PF's secretary
for information and publicity and veteran journalist, Dr Nathan
Shamuyarira, and former Zanu MP for Makonde, Kindness Paradza, are,
however, on record saying AIPPA is a bad law.
speaking at a press discussion in Harare organised by Misa-Zimbabwe,
the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the executive of the Quill
Club, which is the national press club for journalists.
under the topic: "The Zimbabwe question: where did the media get
it wrong and where did it get it right", was attended by close to
100 local and international journalists.
In his presentation,
Charamba said the private and international media had ganged up
to discredit the government of President Robert Mugabe over the
land reform programme.
He said that
it was necessary to enact laws such as AIPPA and the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) as Zimbabwe was under threat.
He said laws
such as the BSA were informed by laws in other jurisdictions, especially
Australia. Pressed by journalists on the selective application of
these laws, Charamba says there had been "overshoots" in the manner
in which the law was being applied.
that his department had not thrown out any foreign correspondents
based in Zimbabwe but that their work permits had expired and in
the case of local journalists like Lewis Machipisa (now in Britain),
he says he was never hounded out of the country and is free to return.
On the closure
of the Daily News, he said the paper could return anytime soon if
it complies with the registration requirements under AIPPA as administered
by the MIC "as there is no paper that can be banned for life".
The Daily News
has since applied for a licence and its application is being considered
by the MIC.
On whether there
was no conflict of interest arising from the fact that Dr Rino Zhuwarara
sits on the MIC board when he is also the chief executive officer
of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings as is also the case with Herald
editor Pikirayi Deketeke who sits on the Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe board, he said those issues would be looked into.
briefed journalists on events leading to the sacking of Professor
Moyo saying the departure of the former minister had been precipitated
by his frequent clashes with the presidency.
He said as a
result the department had to choose between supporting an individual's
political ambitions and loyalty to the presidency. This was the
untenable situation which had led to the subsequent firing of Moyo
after Charamba had warned his officers that they were to remain
loyal to the president.
he even phoned editors at the state media and told them to desist
from being used by "one person". Most editors, according to Charamba,
agreed to toe the line with the exception of Chronicle editor, Stephen
Ndlovu was subsequently
at ZBH, he said the public broadcaster was implementing new technological
advancements but that progress was being hampered by the lack of
skilled personnel. This situation had seen former Newsnet editor-in-chief
Chris Chivinge being recalled from Namibia.
as untrue reports that incumbent editor-in-chief Tazzen Mandizvidza
would be fired as he has failed in his job as editor-in-chief to
make way for Chivinge.
He said Chivinge
was only assisting in the implementation of the digitalisation process
until Mandizvidza masters the new technological advancements.
however, has it on good authority that Mandizvidza has already been
demoted and Chivinge is back in his post as editor-in-chief.
Apart from failing
to utilise the new digital technology installed by the Iranians,
Mandizvidza stands accused of giving too much space to the MDC in
the run-up to the election.
On reports that
the government is jamming SW Radio Africa based in London, Charamba
said that was not true.
wished that the station be jammed saying SW Radio Africa "is a Western-backed
propaganda radio station set up to destabilise Zimbabwe".
SW Radio Africa
has been experiencing transmission problems which experts have attributed
the media that well over 100 foreign journalists had been accredited
and these were mostly from African states and some Western media
houses which he said were not hostile to Zimbabwe.
He added that
foreign media houses that want to operate from Zimbabwe would be
asked to employ local journalists.
he believed in media freedom, he said there were many interpretations
of press freedom, but that the government would not watch and allow
the media to "destroy" the country.
says, had come about because some Western countries have claimed
that they were working with opposition parties and journalists working
for the private press to "effect regime change".
He pledged that
he would meet regularly with media practitioners to improve relations
between journalists, especially those working with the independent
press and his department.
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