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Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2005-23
Monday June 20th – Sunday June 26th 2005
disturbing dereliction of duty has made itself evident again after
their failure to inform the public of the enactment of yet another
repressive law, the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The law was
gazetted on June 3rd, but surprisingly none of the media
has reported on this piece of legislation, which tightens the gag
on the public’s voice, among other provisions that further erode
the country’s democratic space.
Clause 31 of the Act imposes a fine of $5 million or a jail sentence
of up to 20 years or both for anyone who "who publishes
or communicates false statements" that are perceived
to be "prejudicial to the State".
Clause 33 of
the Act also imposes stiffer penalties for anyone convicted of "publicly"
making or publishing a statement (including any act or gesture)
that is deemed as "undermining the authority of or insulting"
These two alarmingly
vague and sweeping clauses introduce truly draconian penalties for
similar offences already contained in the repressive Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Privacy Act
under POSA communicating a false statement perceived to be a threat
to the State’s interests attracts a fine of $100 000 or a five-year
jail term or both, while AIPPA’s penalty for "publishing
or communicating falsehoods", which is
also punishable under Section 31 (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act, is a fine of $400 000 or a maximum of two years
of the media informed the public of this latest assault by the authorities
on the citizenry’s right to freedom of expression.
Daily Mirror (23/6) did expose how such repressive laws have
been used to deny citizens their right to access media of their
choice when it reported that the government-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC) had "reserved judgment"
on the application by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe - publishers
of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday – for
an operating licence and the re-licensing of The Tribune.
The papers were
closed for violating sections of AIPPA.
While the MIC
continues to delay making a determination on these important public
issues, Zimbabweans who have been subjected to incessant propaganda
from the government controlled media, remain starved of diverse
alternative sources of information.
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