Shamu, Charamba in u-turn over MIC

george_charamba2HARARE - The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Webster Shamu, and his permanent secretary George Charamba are reportedly challenging a High Court interim judgment which declared the state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) defunct and allowed four freelance journalists to cover the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

Ironically this comes hardly a day after the same Ministry issued a statement saying it would unconditionally and unreservedly abide by Justice Bharat Patels ruling on 5 May 2009 in favour of freelancers Stanley Gama, Valentine Maponga, Stanly Kwenda and Jealousy Mawarire.

In compliance with the said court order, we unreservedly and unconditionally retract and withdraw the contents of the said statement, reads part of the statement issued by the responsible Minister Webster Shamu and his permanent secretary George Charamba. We also wish to apologise for the delay in issuing this statement, which was in itself caused by a delay in receiving appropriate legal advice, said the statement.

However, in a dramatic volte-face, the minister and his permanent secretary filed papers with the High Court arguing that the January 2008 amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) did not alter the MICs powers but merely changed the name of the regulatory body to the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).

Selby Hwacha who represented the journalists, this week told MISA-Zimbabwe that he was not aware of this development as his office had not been served with the papers in question. Hwacha stressed that nothing had changed regarding the legal status of the MIC saying that the legal instruments were clear and that they should always guide ones interpretation on the position of the law.

He also expressed reservations as to whether the appeal would have any real substance saying that in his view the appeal was merely an attempt to save face by the ministry.

In the present challenge the minister now argues that the ZMC, which is a creature of Constitutional Amendment 19, was different from the statutorily constituted MIC and that the Act which will determine the extent to which the present Commissions (ZMC) functions and powers is still to be enacted.

Post published in: Politics

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