HARARE, Zimbabwe, May 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The cabinet of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has approved the Freedom of Information bill, the first of three media and access to information reform legislations that will effectively repeal the existing Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) once ratified by parliament. The AIPPA repeal is a key demand by the U.S. government to remove the long-standing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa said that the new legislation meets international media freedom standards and would insure that every person has the right to freedom of expression and freedom of media. She added that under the new law "all state-owned media must be impartial and free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts," a provision that would free public media from any state interference.
Two other bills that would complete AIPPA's replacement – the Protection of Personal Information bill and the Zimbabwe Media Commission bill – are expected to receive Cabinet approval in the coming weeks. Stakeholders, from media experts to civil society and the public at large, are involved in the consultation and drafting of the bills and due process is being followed throughout the process.
The Freedom of Information legislation is just one of 30 bills that are currently under review by the Mnangagwa administration in an effort to implement wide-ranging structural reforms.
Among them is the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), a controversial emergency law dating back to the Robert Mugabe era, which is expected to be replaced by the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPA) bill next month. This is in line with the governments promise to modernise the contentious law and align it to the Constitution.
"We are taking concrete steps to demonstrate to the world that we are serious about improving the rule of law and respect for human rights in Zimbabwe," said Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who chairs the Cabinet Committee on Legislation. "We are turning a new chapter in our history and are committed to embracing democratic values and principles."
SOURCE Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Zimbabwe