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MIC misinterpreted the law to deny the ANZ an operating licence
Media 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 in AIPPA, 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 foreign publications.

Reportedly, Deketeke argued that "overregulating the media" did not "bring any good" but "gave the impression of a country that was keen to hide something".

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