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MISA, Journalists Challenge Constitutionality of Zimbabwe Defamation Law

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe), and three senior Zimbabwean journalists Wednesday filed an application with the Constitutional Court seeking an order for criminal defamation to be declared unconstitutional in terms of the new constitution.

In the application filed by lawyer Chris Mhike, MISA-Zimbabwe argues that Section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23), is unconstitutional as it does not comply with Sections 61 and 62 of the constitution and should be struck off.

Sections 61 and 62 protect the right to freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information.

MISA-Zimbabwe is the first applicant while journalists Nqaba Matshazi, Sydney Saize and Godwin Mangudya, are the second, third and fourth respective applicants in the matter. The fifth applicant is Roger Deane Stringer an independent publishing consultant.

Matshazi and Stringer have been victims of the law in question.

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also one of the vice presidents of Zimbabwe, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Professor Jonathan Moyo and Attorney General Prince Machaya are the respondents and have 10 days to oppose the notice.

“We are asking the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe to declare criminal defamation null and void to the extent of its unconstitutionality or lack of compliance with the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Mhike.

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