Section 31 pertains to the publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State. It states;
Any person who, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe
(a) publishes or communicates to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially false with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of
(i) inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or endangering public safety; or
(ii) adversely affecting the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe; or
(iii) undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe; or
(iv) interfering with, disrupting or interrupting any essential service;
shall, whether or not the publication or communication results in a consequence referred to in subparagraph (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv); or
(b) with or without the intention or realisation referred to in paragraph (a), publishes or communicates to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially false and which
(i) he or she knows to be false; or
(ii) he or she does not have reasonable grounds for believing to be true;
shall, if the publication or communication of the statement
A. promotes public disorder or public violence or endangers public safety; or
B. adversely affects the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe; or
C. undermines public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe; or
D. interferes with, disrupts or interrupts any essential service;
be guilty of publishing or communicating a false statement prejudicial to the State and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years or both.
Section 96 deals with the aspect of criminal defamation. It provides for the following;
(1) Any person who, intending to harm the reputation of another person, publishes a statement which
(a) when he or she published it, he or she knew was false in a material particular or realised that there was a real risk or possibility that it might be false in a material particular; and
(b) causes serious harm to the reputation of that other person or creates a real risk or possibility of causing serious harm to that other persons reputation;
shall be guilty of criminal defamation and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.
(2) In deciding whether the publication of a statement has caused harm to a persons reputation that is sufficiently serious to constitute the crime of criminal defamation, a court shall take into account the following factors in addition to any others that are relevant to the particular case
(a) the extent to which the accused has persisted with the allegations made in the statement;
(b) the extravagance of any allegations made in the statement;
(c) the nature and extent of publication of the statement;
(d) whether and to what extent the interests of the State or any community have been detrimentally affected by the publication.
(3) Subject to subsection (4), a person accused of criminal defamation arising out of the publication of a statement shall be entitled to avail himself or herself of any defence that would be available to him or her in civil proceedings for defamation arising out of the same publication of the same statement.
(4) If it is proved in a prosecution for criminal defamation that the defamatory statement was made known to any person, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the person understood its defamatory significance.Post published in: Politics