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AIPPA and POSA before parliament

Two controversial bills, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill and the Public Order and Security Bill, were due to come before Parliament.

The information bill was aimed at regulating the operations of the media. There were, however, complaints that although it purported to give people, and the media in particular, the right to information held by public bodies, in reality it suffocated the media and guaranteed total silence on issues of public concern.

The security bill had already been passed by parliament three years earlier but President Robert Mugabe declined to sign it into law.

It sought tougher measures to deal with acts of terrorism and public violence but there were fears that it could be used to clamp down on civic society and opposition parties.

 

Full cable.


Viewing cable 02HARARE63, MEDIA REPORT: TWO CONTROVERSIAL BILLS TO BE TABLED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE63

2002-01-08 09:50

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

080950Z Jan 02

 

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED     PTO1344

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00063 081055Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   A-00     ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00   USNW-00

DODE-00 DS-00   EUR-00   UTED-00 VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00

LAB-01   VCE-00   DCP-01   NSAE-00 TEST-00 USIE-00 IIP-00

DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00 SAS-00     /004W

——————54A1D3 081055Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0658

INFO NSC WASHDC

AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

AMEMBASSY LUSAKA

AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK

AMEMBASSY GABORONE

AMEMBASSY LILONGWE

AMEMBASSY LONDON

UNCLAS HARARE 000063

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/PD FOR COX, ROBERTSON, SCHLACHTER, AF/S FOR KRAFT, AF/P,

INR/R/MR, NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM

SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT: TWO CONTROVERSIAL BILLS TO BE TABLED

IN PARLIAMENT THIS WEEK; HARARE

 

 

1.   TWO CONTROVERSIAL BILLS – THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND

PROTECTION OF PRIVACY BILL AND THE PUBLIC ORDER AND

SECURITY BILL (POSB) – ARE PREPARED FOR TABLING IN

PARLIAMENT THIS WEEK. PARLIAMENT RESUMES BUSINESS ON

JANUARY 8 AFTER A THREE-WEEK BREAK. WHILE THE ACCESS

TO INFORMATION BILL SEEKS “TO REGULATE THE OPERATIONS

OF THE MEDIA, ESPECIALLY THE PRIVATE PRESS,” THE POSB

COMES BACK TO THE HOUSE SEEKING TOUGHER MEASURES TO

DEAL WITH “ACTS OF TERRORISM AND PUBLIC VIOLENCE.” THE

SAME BILL WAS DEBATED AND PASSED BY PARLIAMENT THREE

YEARS AGO, BUT PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE DECLINED TO SIGN

IT INTO LAW. THE TWO BILLS HAVE BEEN CRITICIZED AS

“UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”

 

2.   ACCORDING TO THE ZIMBABWE CHAIRPERSON OF THE MEDIA

INSTITUTE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (MISA), RAYHANA MASTERS-SMITH,

CONSTITUTIONAL LITIGATION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IS ON THE

CARDS IF PARLIAMENT PASSES THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND

PROTECTION OF PRIVACY BILL. AMONG THE ORGANIZATIONS READY

TO FILE THEIR SUITS THE MOMENT THE BILL IS PRONOUNCED LAW

INLCUDE MISA, THE LAW SOCIETY OF ZIMBABWE (LDZ), THE

FEDERATION OF AFRICAN MEDIA WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE (FAMWZ), THE

LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION (LRF), AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS

LAWYERS OF ZIMBABWE (HRLZ). THE BILL, WHICH WAS GAZETTED

BY THE GOVERNMENT ON NOVEMBER 30 LAST YEAR, HAS BEEN

ROUNDLY CRITICIZED AS “UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND DESIGNED TO GAG

THE OPERATIONS OF THE PRESS, ESPECIALLY THE PRIVATE MEDIA.”

THE ARGUMENT BY THE CIVIC AND MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS IS THAT

WHILE THE BILL OSTENSIBLY PURPORTS TO GIVE THE PEOPLE, AND

THE MEDIA IN PARTICULAR, THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION HELD BY

PUBLIC BODIES, IN REALITY IT SUFFOCATES THE MEDIA AND

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00063 081055Z

GUARANTEES TOTAL SILENCE ON ISSUES OF PUBLIC CONCERN.

 

3.   THE TWO BILLS ARE EXPECTED TO BE FAST-TRACKED THROUGH

PARLIAMENT THIS WEEK, AS THE RULING ZANU PF GOVERNMENT HAS

THE REQUIRED SINGLE MAJORITY TO PASS ANY PIECE OF

LEGISLATION.

 

SULLIVAN

 

UNCLASSIFIED

 

>

 

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