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POSA, BSA amendments fast-tracked through Parliament
December 17, 2007
amendments to the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA) gazetted on 14 December 2007 were fast tracked
through Parliament on 18 December 2007 without any meaningful debate
on the contentious provisions of the enabling Bills.
All the Bills which included the Electoral
Laws Amendment Bill were passed without being referred to the
relevant portfolio committees as required by the Standing Rules
and Orders of Parliament. The Bills were sanctioned by the two opposition
factions of the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF during the SADC-initiated
talks mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
It is of great concern that the Bills in question received the scant
attention of parliamentarians despite their far-reaching implications
on basic freedoms such as the right to freedom of expression, media
freedom and freedom of assembly and association.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa sadly justified the fast-tracking of the Bills without
much debate saying this was done in order for them to be disposed
of before Parliament breaks for the Christmas holidays.
MISA-Zimbabwe concurs with the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists'
concern that none of the negotiators to the SADC-initiated talks
saw it fit to consult stakeholders in order to come up with amendments
that are "owned rather than imposed on the media industry".
MISA-Zimbabwe, however, commends St Marys Member of Parliament Job
Sikhala, who expressed his strong reservations on the quality of
the Bills noting that the requirement under AIPPA for journalists
and mass media service providers to register with the proposed Zimbabwe
Media Commission was not justified in a democratic society. Sikhala
said journalists as is the case with all other professions should
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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