ZiFM interview with George Charamba on 9 April 2018: MISA responds
Mr George Charamba
The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
1st Floor, Munhumutapa Building
55 Samora Machel Avenue
11 April, 2018
RE: MISA ZIMBABWE RESPONSE TO YOUR ZiFM INTERVIEW OF 9 APRIL 2018
MISA Zimbabwe writes this letter in response to the issues you raised during an interview with ZiFM Stereo on the evening of Monday, 9 April 2018.
It is our respectful submission that there were a number of misrepresentations made during the course of that interview. It is these misrepresentations that we address in this letter.
The remarks you made about there being nothing objectionable with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA, are in stark contrast to your very own assertions before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services in Harare on 18 February 2016.
You conceded then, and under oath, that AIPPA and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), should be replaced because they are not in line with the current Constitution. These sentiments were echoed by the Acting Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Simon Khaya Moyo at the launch of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe’s elections programme in Harare on 2 February 2018.
In the interview you also stated that the submissions made by MISA Zimbabwe do not contain any reforms that can be traced back to the Constitution. This was a total misrepresentation of the submissions we made.
In fact, our submissions highlighted the following contentious AIPPA provisions, which, we re-submit, are out of sync with the current Constitution: specifically:
- Section 5 of AIPPA which limits access to information which is in the hands of a public body. Secondly, this section also restricts the exercise of this right to citizens and residents of Zimbabwe. This is in contravention of Section 62 of the Constitution which states that the right to access information can be exercised by every person, and it is applicable to information stored by public, State, and private bodies.
- Sections 64 and 80 of AIPPA which criminalise “abuse of freedom of expression” and “abuse of journalistic privilege” respectively. These provisions are in direct contradiction to Section 61 of the Constitution which protects the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
In our conclusion in that same covering letter, MISA-Zimbabwe clearly called for the urgent repeal of AIPPA and not for its “update” as you misleadingly stated in your interview. MISA-Zimbabwe’s position is that there is need to replace AIPPA with separate, standalone and focused pieces of legislation which respectively deal with the right to privacy, access to information, the administration of the Zimbabwe Media Commission, and lastly, regulation of the media.
Our submissions in that regard, are as clear as daylight.
MISA-Zimbabwe does admit to having made references on the right to be forgotten in its submissions. However, such remarks were made in passing to highlight the extent to which the right to privacy is protected in other jurisdictions.
The right to privacy is protected locally in terms of Section 57 of the Constitution. It is misleading to, therefore, give the impression that the greater part of our submissions revolved around the right to be forgotten or to privacy.
In the interview, you also made mention of how MISA Zimbabwe had stated that AIPPA was an impediment to a level playing field in the forthcoming elections. This is also inaccurate.
The position paper that MISA-Zimbabwe shared with you, was written well before the events which ushered in the current government. There is no way in which we would have made mention of this year’s general elections in those particular submissions.
MISA Zimbabwe is on record stating that the government has not acted on the recommendations by the African Union Election Observation Mission in its report on Zimbabwe’s 2013 general elections calling for media reforms. That is the only time when MISA-Zimbabwe commented on how current Zimbabwean legislation would affect elections and media rights in Zimbabwe.
The scope of the envisaged media reforms extends beyond AIPPA and includes other laws such as the Electoral Act, BSA, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Official Secrets Act, among others.
Lastly, we look forward to receiving your invitation to a meeting. This will afford us the opportunity to discuss the matters raised in our unequivocal submissions with you directly, and to clarify any misunderstandings you might have.
cc: The Herald
cc: Other publications which reported on this interview
About MISA Zimbabwe
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.