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AIPPA, POSA, BSA amendments fast-tracked through Parliament
December 17, 2007

The proposed 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 regulate themselves.

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