Two new laws to replace AIPPA

gift_chimanikire2HARARE The government plans to do scrap a controversial law requiring journalists and media houses to register in order to operate in the country but is looking to enact two new laws to govern the media. (Pictured: Gift Chimanikire With notepad)

The chairperson of a parliamentary portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies, Gift Chimanikire told The Zimbabwean On Sunday last week that the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) would be repealed.

He said the law would be replaced by the Freedom of Information Act and Media Practitioners Act.

AIPPA will be removed but it will be replaced by two other Acts, said Chimanikire. What we are working on is not the ideal situation but it is a compromise.

The proposed new press laws were agreed at a media conference held in Kariba last month. The conference was however boycotted by the majority of media organisations particularly those grouped under the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) which are pushing for a self-regulatory media regime.

Information permanent secretary and President Robert Mugabes press secretary George Charamba the man who helped draft the draconian AIPPA is said have had a major say in the drafting of the proposed new media laws.

The Media Practitioners Act will outline procedures for regulation of journalists while the Freedom of Information Act will regulate access to information and privacy issues.

This process should be a simple and informal exercise meant to address issues of discipline under a self regulatory regime, said Chimanikire.

The two laws have already caused unease among the countrys journalists who view this as an attempt to maintain control on the media.

We dont understand why the new government is introducing these laws because they are essentially bringing that which we have said we dont want. We want to regulate ourselves, said a Harare based Journalist.

Zimbabwe is regarded as one of the worst places for journalists in the world. At least four independent newspapers, including the countrys then biggest circulating daily, The Daily News, were shutdown over the past six years for breaching the governments tough media laws.

Close to 100 journalists were also arrested by the police over the same period.

The information ministry controlled by Webster Shamu, a top Mugabe loyalist, and Charamba continues to block access to foreign media seeking to cover the Zimbabwean story, especially those it regards as hostile, such as the BBC, CNN and South Africas e-TV. There are no independent broadcasters in Zimbabwe.

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