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Cablegate: Media Report: Two Controversial Bills to Be Tabled

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

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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
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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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