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challenge the legality of MIC
June 04, 2009
Four freelance journalists,
Stanley Gama, Stanley Kwenda, Jealous Mawarire and Valentine Maponga
have filed an urgent application with the High Court challenging
the legal status of the Media and Information Commission (MIC),
following a directive last week by the Ministry of Media, Information
and Publicity instructing all journalists wishing to cover the on-going
Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit set for
7 to 9 June 2009 in Victoria Falls to seek accreditation with the
In terms of
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), as amended
in January 2008, the MIC led by Tafataona Mahoso no longer exists.
Section 38 of statutory instrument No 20 of 2007 notes the creation
of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which replaces the MIC.
To date, the ZMC has not been constituted.
As a result, the four
journalists, in their application, contend that the MIC has no legal
basis to require their registration so as to cover the COMESA Heads
of State and Government Summit since it does not exist in terms
of the law.
In his founding
affidavit, Gama argues that Amendment
No. 19 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe inserted a new chapter
in Part 3 of the same document which provides for the establishment
of a new ZMC.
"Any powers relating
to accreditation, interlia have, therefore, been transferred from
the first ZMC to the current ZMC. The provisions relating to empowering
the current ZMC to make regulations remain intact, and as such,
the Minister continues to have no power to make regulations, orders
or issue notices in relation to accreditation of journalists. In
any event, the Minister still cannot purport to exercise regulatory
powers unless and until he is provided with written authorisation
expressly delegating him such function from the ZMC, as stipulated
in section 52(2) of the Act" says Gama.
This also comes pursuant
to the Prime Minister's statement that journalists and media
houses are no longer obliged to register with the defunct MIC.
The Prime Minister is
cited as the fourth respondent in the matter in his official capacity
as the person responsible for the executive arm of the inclusive
government, and in charge of ensuring the proper implementation
of both the law and policy.
Webster Shamu, the permanent secretary in the information ministry,
George Charamba and Tafataona Mahoso are the first, second and third
respondents in the matter respectively.
Selby Hwacha, who is
representing the four journalists, contends that unless the court
intervenes urgently, the applicants and the general public will
suffer irreparable harm from which they have no other avenue of
redress. Given that the Summit is of regional and international
interest, the applicants' right to freely express themselves
and disseminate information will have been unduly infringed if they
were to be hindered from covering this event.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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