The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ (ACHPR) chairperson Commissioner Pansy Tlakula on 19 May 2016 urged media organisations to push for implementation of the government-sanctioned Information and Media Panel of Inquiry’s recommendations on media reforms.
At a lunch meeting hosted by MISA-Zimbabwe in Harare at the end of her four-day advocacy visit in her capacity as the ACHPR’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Commissioner Tlakula told representatives of media organisations and human rights defenders that the progressive IMPI recommendations should not be allowed to go to waste.
“Implementation (of the IMPI recommendations) will result in enhanced enjoyment of access to information and freedom of expression,” she said.
She said civil society and the media should work together on a co-ordinated and sustained advocacy for the adoption and effective implementation of a separate access to information law to replace the existing Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Briefing journalists at a press conference after the lunch meeting, Commissioner Tlakula who described her visit as successful, said she had also met with the chairpersons of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Media; Human Rights as well as the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Other meetings were held with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), and the Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba.
The Commissioner was, however, unable to meet the Ministers of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services and that of Information Communication Technologies, Christopher Mushowe and Supa Mandiwanzira respectively, as had been planned.
On her meetings with the parliamentary committees, she said: “In this regard, I proposed the use of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa which was adopted by the African Commission in February 2013, as a guide to Parliament in developing a future law on access to information.
“ I also suggested that the Data Protection Bill which is currently being developed by the government, should be adopted simultaneously with the adoption of an Access to Information law to ensure coherence and avoid conflict on the two closely related rights of access to information and the right to privacy.”
Commissioner Tlakula said she discussed “extensively” the role of POTRAZ in ensuring the enjoyment of the right to access to information through various forms of technology in the wake of the proposed Data Protection, Cyber Security and Electronic Transaction bills.
On the ongoing digitisation process, she said the process should ensure access to information will be within the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“I also urged the ZHRC to begin engaging with the African Commission by applying for affiliate status and actively participating in its Ordinary Sessions,” said Commissioner Tlakula.