MISA petitions AG over draconian media laws

Source: MISA petitions AG over draconian media laws – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 13, 2017

THE Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe (Misa Zimbabwe) has rapped government over its failure to align two draconian laws — Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) — with the Constitution.


In a letter dated December 7, 2017, addressed to Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya, who is the chairperson of the inter-ministerial taskforce mandated to facilitate the legislative alignment process, Misa-Zimbabwe national chairperson, Golden Maunganidze said the process was taking too long.

“While it is common cause that your esteemed taskforce has identified the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act as key media laws among the bulk of laws that need to be aligned to the Constitution, this sadly remains a mere undertaking,” he said.

Maunganidze said provisions of the BSA, with reference to sections 4 and 10 remain out of sync with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and should be reviewed.

“There is imperative need to ensure the depoliticisation of the appointment process in order to ensure that it becomes more democratic and transparent so as to guarantee the independence of Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ),” he said.

“Further it shall also be necessary to check the powers of the minister under this Act as well as the ZBC Commercialisation Act with a view to ensure that the power cannot be arbitrarily wielded hence preserving the autonomy of the BAZ and ZBC as a State broadcaster in line with sections 61(3) (b) and 61(4)(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Maunganidze said there was need for the establishment of an independent licensing authority, as well as independent regulatory authority.
He said licensing was subject to availability of band spectrum, something that was not fair.

“Misa Zimbabwe respectfully submits that there is need to craft a separate law that speaks to freedom of information if this right is to be fully enjoyed. This law should in effect seek to narrow down the ambit of information regarded as ‘excluded information’ if section 62(4) is to have full force and effect,” he said.

He exhorted the inter-ministerial taskforce to speedily address these irregularities within the media law framework.
The letter was copied to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Clerk of Parliament, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services.