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Information Minister defends Zimbabwe's draconian media laws
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2006-14
Monday April 3rd – Sunday April 9th 2006

DESPITE widespread condemnation of the current repressive legislative environment, Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya continued to defend the country’s draconian media laws. The Herald and Chronicle (8/4) passively reported him telling visiting Indonesian journalists that Zimbabwe’s media laws were "designed to protect both the Press and the general public", adding that there was "nothing draconian" about the widely condemned AIPPA.

And to downplay the offensive nature of the Act, the minister absurdly depicted AIPPA as a lesser evil as compared to some laws found in the US such as the Patriotic Act, which he claimed was being used to "make arbitrary arrests of travellers at that country’s airports".

But how exactly this US piece of legislation could be compared to AIPPA, an information law, remained unexplained. Neither would the papers apprise their readers on laws that governed media operations and the flow of information in the US. Instead, they supinely allowed him to further project Zimbabwe’s human rights record as better than that of the US. He claimed that, "unlike the US", Harare "had no ambitions of invading other countries like what the US did in the case of Iraq, before butchering innocent children and women and later masquerading as a champion of human rights".

However, The Standard (9/4) reported Swedish ambassador Sten Rylander disproving the authorities’ claims that their tyrannical media laws were not only unique to Zimbabwe but a common feature in the statutes of the West. He noted that contrary to claims by Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso that Sweden’s media laws were more repressive than those of Zimbabwe, his country’s media policy promoted freedom of expression and nurtured media independence and diversity.

Said Rylander: "There has never been an agenda in Sweden to shut down newspapers, big or small, because they cannot raise the required capital to publish nor for the simple reason that they have changed shareholding structures without informing government or a quasi-governmental department".

Notably, these are some of the main reasons The Tribune has remained closed since June 2004.

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