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Media practitioners bill in line for debate in parliament
MISA-Zimbabwe
July 14, 2010

President Mugabe has announced that the Media Practitioners' Bill, which has been on the cards for more than a year following recommendations of the All Media Stakeholders Conference held in Kariba in May 2009, will be among the 23 Bills constituting the legislative agenda of the next parliamentary session.

He made this remark during the opening of the 3rd Session of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare on July 13.

According to his address, the Media Practitioners Bill seeks to "repeal the part of the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which deals with the registration of journalists and privacy issues".

Former Deputy Information Minister Jameson Timba had earlier mentioned plans to replace AIPPA with this Bill together with the Freedom of Information Bill to try and ease the current stringent media regulation.

Notably, President Mugabe was silent on the Freedom of Information Bill.

What is clear from his address is government's reluctance to repeal AIPPA in its entirety as well as a raft of other repressive laws that continue to inhibit media freedom and Zimbabweans' right to freedom of expression and access to information. The address also betrays the authorities' desire to maintain controls and restrictions on media activity, which have been widely condemned as inimical to media freedom.

MISA-Zimbabwe reiterates that only the repeal of AIPPA and other laws that erode media freedom and their replacement with those compatible with the best practice in media regulation enshrined in regional and international instruments on freedom of expression will amount to genuine media reforms necessary for the democratic development of Zimbabwe.

Background

AIPPA was enacted in 2002 to regulate media activity in the country. The law provides for, among other things;

  • Statutory media regulation through the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) the body is also responsible for the registration, accreditation and licensing of journalists and media houses.
  • A 30 day period for accessing information from public bodies; the period can be further extended for another 30 days.
  • Punishment by fine, imprisonment for two years, deregistration, or suspension from practicing as a journalist for falsify or fabricating information.

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