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Mahoso's Aippa bid fresh blow to media
Manyukwe, The Zimbabwe Independent
April 04, 2006
condemned a proposed amendment by Media and Information Commission
(MIC) chairperson Tafataona Mahoso seeking to tighten the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portifolio Committee on Transport
and Communications recently, Mahoso called for the regulation of
distributors of foreign publications to avoid having "a planeload
of subversive material being dumped on the country’s streets on
the eve of an election".
"It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers
and the distributors," he said.
"Those distributors who import foreign periodicals should indicate
where they are procuring such periodicals."
The committee indicated that they would soon be recalling Mahoso
to hear his views on other proposed amendments by other interested
Observers last week expressed fears that Mahoso’s proposed amendment
was aimed at censoring publications such as The Zimbabwean, published
in Britain, South Africa’s Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian
— all weeklies that have carried reports critical of government
They added that the move would result in the reduction of independent
publications in the country.
Mathew Takaona, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
said the move would isolate the people of Zimbabwe from the rest
of the world.
"We are surprised by the proposal.
The world is now a global village and you cannot isolate Zimbabweans
from the rest of the international community by regulating the distribution
of media products," Takaona said.
"Government should allow citizens access to unfettered information.
People should read all the information and make up their own minds,"
Takaona said the proposal would create a dilemma for international
visitors and to get round it journals from all over the world may
need to be registered for purposes of screening which he said is
"The market should be allowed to make a determination.
If people want it, they will buy it, if they do not want it they
won’t," Takaona added.
Human rights and media lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said it was surprising
for Mahoso to make such a proposal when the government told the
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights that it would be
relaxing the draconian legislation.
She said that the move may result in the disappearance of independent
international publications from Zimbabwe.
"Regulating distributors may mean refusing distribution. Where
do we draw the line?" wondered Mtetwa. She added:
"One hopes that Mahoso was not speaking on behalf of the government
otherwise it would mean that the government went to the African
Commission and told an untruth."
The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Joseph James also condemned
Mahoso’s proposals saying they were not necessary in a global village.
Project of Zimbabwe’s assistant advocacy coordinator Dumisani
Gandhi said Mahoso’s proposal would affect the people’s capacity
to make informed decisions.
"I think he has a sinister intention. When others are campaigning
that Aippa be repealed or amended to meet international norms and
standards, he is in fact tightening it," said Gandhi.
He added that freedom of expression should go beyond borders.
"The papers that would be targeted were giving an alternative
source of information.
The other side is necessary for people to make informed choices
and decisions," he said.
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