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commended for drafting Model Access to Information Legislation
October 05, 2006
Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications has commended
MISA-Zimbabwe for coming up with the Model Access to Information
Legislation which directly challenges the restrictive Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The Model was
presented at a workshop on media law reforms organised by the Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) which comprises MISA-Zimbabwe, Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) and the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists.
Leo Mugabe said the Model would go a long way in informing Parliament
on the critical issues pertaining to access to information and aspects
that should be contained in such legislation. Mugabe urged MISA-Zimbabwe
to also submit the document to the Ministries of Information and
Publicity and that of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
to the workshop, MISA-Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde, noted
with concern that in its current form, AIPPA had the opposite effect
when it came to allowing for citizens' right to access to information.
He cited the restriction of that right to the closure of the Daily
News and Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times by the
statutory Media and Information Commission thereby denying citizens
access to alternative sources of information and ideas notwithstanding
the arrests and harassment of journalists on allegations of violating
provisions of AIPPA.
the deputy editor of the privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent who
addressed the workshop on behalf of the Zimbabwe National Editors
Forum, chronicled the difficulties journalists experience when it
comes to interviewing government officials and accessing information
in the interest of the public.
Under AIPPA journalists
and citizens are required to submit questions to public institutions
in writing while the custodians of the information so required have
up to 30 days within which to respond subject to a further 30- day
Nyathi said this
made the work of journalists difficult given that news is a perishable
commodity adding that the Act, contrary to its name and preamble
had the effect of protecting public officials from scrutiny and
It is MISA-Zimbabwes
strong view that an access to information law should lay out clear
procedures on how members of the public should access information
held on their behalf by both public and private bodies in order
to protect and advance their rights.
The law should
be premised on the need for government to open its activities to
scrutiny by citizens on the basis of mutual trust and shared responsibilities
with all sectors of society.
came up with the Model as part of its lobby activities towards improving
the media operating environment in Zimbabwe through increased access
to information among other contentious issues.
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