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misinterpreted the law to deny the ANZ an operating licence
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2006-13
Monday March 27th – Sunday April 2nd 2006
THIS week The Financial Gazette
columnist and former Media and Information Commission (MIC) member
Jonathan Maphenduka exposed how the government-appointed commission
conveniently misinterpreted the law and defied the Supreme Court
judgment just to deny the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)
an operating licence.
Maphenduka revealed that despite the
Supreme Court ruling that the MIC should "consider the
application on its merits and demerits", the commission,
"in pursuance of its agenda to frustrate" the
ANZ, "disregarded" the judgement and denied
the company registration on the basis that it had a "record
of operating without a licence".
However, he observed, there is no provision
which "stipulates that "records" of past infringement
of the Act should be used to determine the fate of application before
the board", a fact also "recognised by the
Supreme Court in its judgement of March 14 2005".
Further, Maphenduka noted that the commission
also misread the law by refusing to licence ANZ on the grounds that
it had violated AIPPA by operating without a licence when a "breach
of the Act" can "only emerge after commencement
of consideration of an application by the commission".
He bemoaned the MIC’s decision saying
it has "prolonged the agony and frustration the applicant
has had to endure…"
In fact, the Zimbabwe Independent
(31/3) revealed that the ANZ had again gone back to court seeking
an order for it to be "deemed registered"
following the commission’s failure to comply with a recent High
Court ruling compelling it to deal with the publisher’s application
"within the timeframe stipulated by law".
The 30-day deadline under which the commission
was supposed to address the matter lapsed on March 10.
It is such unjust practices by the MIC
that resulted in Swedish ambassador Sten Rylander also criticising
the commission, saying claims by its chairman Tafataona Mahoso that
the country’s media laws were similar to those of Sweden were a
"lurid comparison" whose "source"
remained "unclear" (SW Radio Africa 31/3).
But it was not only independent observers
who criticised Mahoso.
The Independent reported that
editor of the government-controlled Herald newspaper, Pikirai
Deketeke, had told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport
and Communications that he disagreed with Mahoso’s proposal that
his board should be given more powers to regulate distributors of
Reportedly, Deketeke argued that "overregulating
the media" did not "bring any good"
but "gave the impression of a country that was keen to
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