MISA-Zimbabwe statement on constitutional court ruling on criminal defamation

MISA-Zimbabwe welcomes the Constitutional Court’s ruling which reinforces that criminal defamation is unconstitutional as a significant milestone that will hopefully lead to the repealing of the offending legal provision.


This followed a successful application by then Standard Editor Nevanji Madanhire, and reporter Nqaba Matshazi, seeking permanent stay of prosecution on charges of contravening section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The finding was made on 12 June 2014 in a Constitutional Court judgment delivered by Justice Bharat Patel, with the full concurrence of Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Justices Malaba, Ziyambi, Gwaunza, Garwe, Gowora, Hlatshwayo and Guvava, in terms of Section 20 (1) of the former constitution which dealt with freedom of expression.

The court said the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, if he so wishes, should show cause why Section 96 of the Act should not be declared unconstitutional in terms of the old constitution.

The offence followed the publication of an article concerning former Reserve Bank Governor’s advisor , Munyaradzi Kereke which stated that his Green Card Medical Aid Society was unable to pay its members and staff as well as its creditors and that it was on the brink of collapse.

Although the operative effect of the judgment is to render section 96 of the Code unconstitutional, the court is yet to decide whether the same provision is unconstitutional when viewed in the context of the new constitution.

The Constitutional Court noted that this provision is yet to be tested for constitutionality under the new constitution.

“In any event, as I have said, these matters are for argument and consideration as and when an appropriate case is brought for determination before this court,” said Justice Patel.

MISA-Zimbabwe therefore urges the speedy auditing of laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Broadcasting Services Act, Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act and Interception of Communication Act by the inter-ministerial committee to ensure compliance with the new constitution.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *