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Cablegate: Supreme Court Upholds Aippa's Constitutionality,

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

UNCLAS HARARE 000223

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/S - S. DELISI, L. AROIAN, M. RAYNOR
AF/PD FOR D. FOLEY, C. DALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO PREL ZI
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS AIPPA'S CONSTITUTIONALITY,
RESERVES JUDGMENT ON DAILY NEWS

REF: (A) HARARE 174 (B) HARARE 128 and previous

1. (U) The Supreme Court on February 5 upheld the
constitutionality of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). In a long-running case
brought by the Independent Journalists Association of
Zimbabwe (IJAZ) filed soon after AIPPA was enacted, the
ruled that AIPPA sections 79 (requiring registration of
journalists), 83 (prohibition of practice by unaccredited
journalists), and 85 (the right of the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to establish a code of conduct for
journalists) did not violate the constitution. It found
that Section 80 (criminalizing the publication of
falsehoods) did violate the Constitution; however,
responding to a lower court ruling to that effect, the GOZ
amended AIPPA recently to address the purported inadequacy.

2. (U) The Court also heard on February 5 the MIC's
application to have The Daily News cease publication pending
hearing of the consolidated TDN-related appeals, including
some that hinge on AIPPA (ref A). According to TDN lawyers,
Chief Justice Chidyausiku conceded that, as an appellate
judge, he lacked jurisdiction to entertain the MIC's
original motion but nonetheless reserved judgment on the
application. According to the lawyers, the action
effectively permits TDN to publish for now, subject to a
contrary decision at any time. The consolidated appeal of
TDN cases is still scheduled for February 18 but when a
decision would be rendered on that hearing is uncertain.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: Taken together, the decisions say
something about the current state of Zimbabwe's Supreme
Court. AIPPA is central to the GOZ's concerted campaign to
bring the independent press to heel; its invalidation by the
politically sensitive Supreme Court therefore was unlikely.
The second decision, or rather non-decision, conforms to an
increasingly popular practice by courts generally when the
letter of the law conflicts with the political imperatives
of prominent GOZ principals: they "reserve judgment."

4. (SBU) The decisions say less about the state of the
independent press. The AIPPA decision dealt a blow to media
hopes but was not unexpected and does not change the de
facto operating environment. It undermines some but not all
of TDN's legal arguments for its February 18 hearing, the
decision on which may say a lot more about the fate of
Zimbabwe's beleaguered independent press.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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