Zimbabwe to repeal notorious repressive laws; POSA and AIPPA

Monica Mutsvangwa
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HARARE – Government is working on four Bills that will lead to a repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) as the two pieces of legislation “have toxic areas” redolent “of the old dispensation”, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

The Bills are the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Data/Information Protection, Freedom of Information and the Broadcasting Services Act Amendment Bill.

In an interview with The Herald and Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN) on Wednesday, Minister Mutsvangwa said AIPPA and POSA were reminiscent of the old dispensation.

She said the mooted legislation would be regulated separately in tandem with international best practice.

“We are working on repealing AIPPA, which had become very toxic in some certain areas.

“There is no doubt that these two laws are relics of the old dispensation, and some sections contained therein are ultra vires the Constitution. The commitment by the new dispensation to the reform process is undoubtable,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“President Mnangagwa has a clear vision, which he enunciated in November 2017, where he indicated that he wanted to usher a democratic Zimbabwe. True to his inauguration speech after Operation Restore Legacy, he has opened that democratic space,” she said.

“Therefore AIPPA, which falls under my ministry, will be repealed as soon as His Excellency assents to the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill after being tabled before Cabinet and Parliament. POSA is a law governed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and it will be realigned with the Constitution.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the repeal of AIPPA was also in tandem with the reform process aimed at ensuring the media operates freely within the confines of the law.

She said the freedom to criticise Government should be exercised to the fullest extent permitted by the Constitution.

“It is President Mnangagwa’s reform agenda that is informing the opening up of the media space. Democracy thrives when there is freedom of information, freedom of speech and freedom of the media,” she said.

“Freedom to criticise should be exercised to the fullest extent permitted by the Constitution. Rights are not exercised in isolation; there are obligations that accompany the enjoyment of any right, including those enjoyed by the State itself.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the new dispensation was working to expedite the

digitisation process which will lead to 12 additional channels.

She said the licensing of new players would be done in a transparent manner.

“The movement from analogue to digital has been ongoing, albeit at a slow pace as a result of inadequate foreign currency to meet all the requirements. But we are pleased to note that Government in the 2019 Budget allocated $39 million towards the digitisation project. It is estimated that the project needs $104 million to be completed,” she said.

“Every Zimbabwean has a right to own and run a media house, subject to meeting the country’s licensing regulations. Howver, there is debate on who should finance community radio stations.

“Some are of the conviction that foreign donors should. However, our position is that, communities should own and run their own stations outside of external influence of any kind. Government may just assist in setting up, if need be,” she said. – Herald