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Use of Old Media Laws Angers MISA-Zimbabwe

The police is accused of using old laws to bar public protests and gatherings by media practitioners, civil society organisations and the public

The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA-Zimbabwe says it is disturbed by the lack of urgency in aligning the country’s legislative framework with the new constitution, more than a year after it was adopted.

In a statement, the media watchdog said because of this delay in aligning the laws, those that were crafted under the old constitution continue to be used to suppress people’s rights.

MISA said police still use them to bar public protests and gatherings of media practitioners, civil society organisations and members of the public.

The group says while it notes with cautious optimism the work being done by the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry and is encouraged by the recent Constitutional Court ruling on criminal defamation and calls by the government for greater media freedom, the old legislative framework remains in place, posing threats to the enjoyment of the same rights the new constitution seeks to promote and protect.

Independent media expert Takura Zhangazha, who once headed MISA-Zimbabwe, says the major challenge now is whether the government is ready to align the laws because its lack of urgency seems as if it intends to retain specific sections of the criminal defamation laws.

“The relevant parliamentary committee has tried to meet media stakeholders but what it has not done is bringing the media, information and broadcasting services to full account,” he says.

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