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Cablegate: Goz Approves Information Bill

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

030628Z Dec 01


UNCLASSIFIED PTO7516

PAGE 01 HARARE 03602 030720Z
ACTION INR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 A-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 USNW-00
DODE-00 DS-00 EUR-00 UTED-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 LAB-01
VCE-00 NSAE-00 TEST-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /003W
------------------460D46 030720Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0450
INFO NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
AMEMBASSY GABORONE
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
AMEMBASSY LONDON

UNCLAS HARARE 003602

SIPDIS

AF/PD FOR COX, ROBERTSON, AF/S FOR SCHLACHTER, AF/RA
(SWANN), INR/R/MR, NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ZI PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: GOZ APPROVES INFORMATION BILL


1. THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE (GOZ) HAS APPROVED THE
CONTROVERSIAL ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PROTECTION
OF PRIVACY BILL. THE BILL IS LIKELY TO BE
PRESENTED TO PARLIAMENT FOR CONSIDERATION WITHIN
THE NEXT 10 DAYS.

2. THE BILL CONTAINS A NUMBER OF MEASURES PROVIDING
FOR GOVERNMENT LICENSING AND CONTROL OF JOURNALISTS AND
MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS. SEVERAL MEDIA OBSERVERS AND NON-
GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, INCLUDING THE MEDIA
INSTITUTE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (MISA) AND THE NATIONAL
CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY (NCA), HAVE SHARPLY CRITICIZED
THE BILL. THEY DESCRIBE IT AS "ANOTHER GOZ TOOL TO
MUZZLE THE INDEPENDENT PRESS."

3. ACCORDING TO AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE NOVEMBER
30 EDITION OF THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED DAILY "THE
HERALD," THE BILL PROVIDES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A
"MEDIA AND INFORMATION COMMISSION" TO REGULATE THE
MEDIA INDUSTRY. THE ARTICLE DOES NOT INDICATE THE
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION, BUT MAKES CLEAR THAT THE
MINISTER OF INFORMATION WILL HAVE CONTROL OF THE
COMMISSION.

4. THE KEY ELEMENTS OF THE BILL ARE:

- SANCTIONS AGAINST JOURNALISTS OR MEDIA
ORGANIZATION THAT ".SPREAD RUMORS, FALSEHOODS OR CAUSE
ALARM AND DESPONDENCY UNDER THE GUISE OF AUTHENTIC
REPORTS."
- THE REQUIREMENT THAT MEDIA OWNERS REGISTER WITH
THE COMMISSION, WHICH MAY CANCEL THE REGISTRATION IF AN
ORGANIZATION VIOLATES ANY PART OF THE BILL.
- THE REQUIREMENT THAT ONLY ZIMBABWEAN CITIZENS OR
COMPANIES OWNED BY ZIMBABWEANS WILL BE ALLOWED TO
OPERATE MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS.
- THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A REGISTER OF JOURNALISTS AND
THE ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATES OF REGISTRATION TO
JOURNALISTS WHO "MUST POSSESS THE PRESCRIBED
QUALIFICATIONS AND BE A CITIZEN OF AND BASED IN
ZIMBABWE."
- GRANTING THE COMMISSION AUTHORITY TO ACCREDIT
JOURNALISTS AND GIVING THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION
AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE THE MANNER AND FORM IN WHICH THE
ACCREDITATION WILL BE DONE. THE BILL ALSO GIVES THE
COMMISSION AUTHORITY TO SUSPEND OR PUNISH JOURNALISTS
FOR "MISCONDUCT."
- SANCTIONS AGAINST JOURNALISTS WHO WRITE FOR
PUBLICATIONS OTHER THAN THE ONE THAT EMPLOYS THEM.
- THE REQUIREMENT THAT ALL FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS
NEED TO BE CITIZENS OF ZIMBABWE.
- THE REQUIREMENT THAT FOREIGN MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS
WILL BE SET UP ONLY WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE MINISTER
OF INFORMATION AND ONLY JOURNALISTS ACCREDITED IN TERMS
OF THE BILL SHALL BE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS.

5. IF THIS BILL IS PASSED AS WRITTEN, IT WILL GIVE
THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE SWEEPING POWER TO DETERMINE
WHO MAY OWN AND OPERATE A MEDIA COMPANY, WHO MAY WORK
AS A JOURNALIST AND WHAT NEWS MAY BE REPORTED.

SULLIVAN

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HARARE 03602 030720Z

UNCLASSIFIED

>

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