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Weekly Media Update 2010-26
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Monday July 5th - Sunday July 11th 2010
July 16, 2010
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for media reforms
President Mugabe's omission
of a proposed Freedom of Information Bill from the legislative agenda
of the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe confirmed
fears among Zimbabweans that government is not committed to the
genuine reform of Zimbabwe's offensive media and information laws.
of scrapping the notorious Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act altogether, Mugabe
gave notice at the opening of the third session of Parliament that
only some sections of AIPPA dealing with the registration of journalists
will be repealed - and replaced by a Media Practitioners Bill.
This clearly illustrates
that under Mugabe's control government has no intention of repealing
the restrictive sections of AIPPA governing the public's right to
access information held by government. And the proposed Media Practitioners'
Bill simply adopts much of the excessively bureaucratic and restrictive
measures contained in AIPPA, thus retaining government's statutory
control over media activity in Zimbabwe.
This does not constitute
media reform by any stretch of the imagination; it is merely a cosmetic
manipulation of legislation to give the appearance of reform.
It also represents a
slap in the face for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who, as head
of government, had announced an ambitious work plan that included
the total repeal of AIPPA and its replacement with a Freedom of
Information Bill that went some way towards restoring the peoples'
rights to freely access information held by public bodies. Although
Tsvangirai also announced government's plans to introduce a Media
Practitioners' Bill, Zimbabwe's media community had hoped that its
more Draconian provisions would be removed on its introduction to
In what appeared
to be a "correction" to its initial story reporting that
the Bill would "do away with the need for registration of journalists
and clarify privacy issues in AIPPA", The Herald (15/7) reported
that "the Bill is expected to change registration procedures,
rather than repeal them . . . " But it disguised this news
under a headline that read 'Media Reforms on the Cards' and stated
that the measures were in line with the Global
Financial Gazette (15/7) reported that Mugabe's announcement was
viewed as an indication of "resistance to reforms" by
some elements in government, while Newsday (15/7) quoted the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) warning that it "betrays
the authorities' desire to maintain controls and restrictions"
on the media.
While the MDC might be
expected to use its parliamentary majority to challenge the content
of these proposed laws, there is little doubt they will get bogged
down in a parliamentary stalemate that will leave AIPPA in its present
form as an effective weapon for the authorities to maintain their
control over all media activity in the country.
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