MISA criminal defamation case set down for hearing

The Constitutional Court application by MISA-Zimbabwe and four others seeking an order declaring criminal defamation unconstitutional in terms of the new constitution has been set down for hearing on 3 February 2016.

 

 

Prince Machaya

Prince Machaya

This followed its postponement on 22 July 2015, during which the court raised  preliminary points which both the applicants and respondents were required to address in supplementary heads of arguments before the court delves into the merits of the case.

 

MISA-Zimbabwe duly filed its supplementary heads of arguments on 20 January 2016 and awaits the same from the respondents

 

MISA-Zimbabwe is arguing that Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) is unconstitutional as it does not comply with Sections 61 and 62 of the new Constitution and should be struck off. Sections 61 and 62 protect the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information.

 

The Attorney-General Prince Machaya and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs  represented by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who are the respondents in the matter, are arguing for the retention of criminal defamation.

 

 

background

In this matter, MISA-Zimbabwe is the first applicant while journalists Nqaba Matshazi, Sydney Saize and Godwin Mangudya, are the second, third and fourth respective applicants in the matter. The fifth applicant is Roger Deane Stringer, an independent publishing consultant.

 

The Attorney-General Prince Machaya and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs  represented by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who are the respondents in the matter, are arguing for the retention of criminal defamation.

 

During the hearing in July last year, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku sitting with the full bench of the Constitutional Court, said the court should be addressed on the issue of locus standi (properly before the court) and in particular, whether the matter  is moot (unresolved)  or ripe for determination.

 

Secondly, the court also sought to be addressed on whether Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act remains valid despite its previous ruling in  the case of Nevanji Madanhire  & Nqaba Matshazi vs State.  In that case the ConCourt ruled that criminal defamation was unconstitutional in terms of the old constitution.

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