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to ban media coverage on elections
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2006-23
Monday June 5th 2006 – Sunday June 11th 2006
Gazette (8/6) reported this week legislators’ alarming recommendation
to starve Zimbabweans of any information about an election for at
least two days leading up to the poll.
The paper said
the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Communications had
recommended that "government bans media coverage of elections
at least two days before voting begins", following proposals
by Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso that
his body be given more powers to regulate distributors of foreign
publications "that flood the…market a day or two before elections".
In an effort
to justify such clearly undemocratic intentions aimed at further
eroding the citizenry’s basic rights, the committee was reported
passively citing editors of government papers trying to project
the suggestion as an international norm, claiming that similar laws
existed in the UK and US.
unnamed US diplomat dismissed such feeble attempts to draw parallels
with his country’s statutes as "totally false" saying
the comparison "displays total lack of knowledge of the compliance
laws in the US" as it did not "have media blackout prior
to elections", which violated the "First Amendment".
such revelations, Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya continued
to try to draw parallels with US statutes in an effort to reinforce
official claims that the country’s repressive media laws were universally
The Herald (13/6)
passively quoted him claiming that while Washington had labelled
"draconian", a "comparative analysis of the legislation
with the Patriotic Act of the US showed that the latter was more
prohibitive to the operations of the media".
challenged to explain how exactly the two laws were similar, he
was then allowed to gloss over the abusive nature of AIPPA by projecting
it as upholding the public’s right to information.
"AIPPA is the only kind of legislation in which you can challenge
government to reveal any information", adding that the Act
was "not a Zanu-PF thing but was discussed in Parliament".
The paper allowed
these claims to pass without challenge.
no attempt was made to remind the public how the ruling party subverted
the parliamentary process to ensure the enactment of the law, which
MDC legislators strongly opposed.
the paper note that contrary to Jokonya’s claims, Sections 5-29
of AIPPA actually place barriers to access official information
rather than facilitating it. For example, Section 14 bars access
to all information on Cabinet deliberations except where the deliberations,
resolution or draft resolution is made or considered in the presence
of members of the public. Government officials can also delay or
defer responses to public inquiries virtually indefinitely in many
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