Zimbabwe’s Media Commission seeks to ban foreign papers

Zimbabwe’s Media Commission (ZMC) on Thursday announced they would seek permission from the authorities to ban all foreign newspapers that are not registered in the country but are sold there.

The commission chairman, Godfrey Majonga, reportedly said that foreign papers had ignored calls by the commission to “regularize their status” for more than a year. Those affected by the ban would not be allowed into circulation until they complied with Zimbabwean law.

Such a ban would affect South African newspapers that are popular with Zimbabweans, including Business Day, The Guardian, Sunday Times and The Star and Financial Mail.

Deputy Minister of Information, Murisi Zwizwai, told SW Radio Africa that he was surprised at the announcement and was totally opposed to the ban.

He blasted the ZMC for using the police to go after vendors who sell foreign papers, without even a court order.

“It’s unconstitutional and premised around AIPPA, which is a piece of legislation that we agreed as parties to the inclusive government that it must go out of the way of media freedoms,” Zwizwai explained.

Foreign journalists are not allowed to work permanently in Zimbabwe, as prescribed by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which also requires media entities and journalists to be registered.

The deputy minister also referred to media reforms that Mugabe agreed to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) brokered by President Zuma and SADC, which call for the establishment of a free and independent press environment before any elections are held.

Zwizwai agreed that the move is an attempt to further restrict the press and protect Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF from negative publicity, ahead of elections which the party insists should be held this year.

He criticized the ZMC for failing to reign in the state media, which he accused of using hate language against the Prime Minister Morgann Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.

Over the last decade several foreign journalists have been arrested and others deported by the Mugabe regime. Local journalists also operate under strict rules, facing harassment and arrests for any reports that are deemed to be prejudicial to the state. – SW Radio Africa News

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