BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has failed to enact laws which enhance constitutionalism, but has brought back repressive laws, albeit with new names, legal think-tank Veritas has revealed.
This came out in its latest online publication, Constitutional Watch, published yesterday.
Veritas said some of the retained repressive laws were not conducive for opening up of democratic space.
The think-tank said contrary to Mnangagwa’s pledges when he took over from the late former President Robert Mugabe, his government had maintained some authoritarian laws that were contrary to his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
It said for instance, government resurrected the repealed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), through the setting new registration fees for journalists and media organisations accredited under Statutory Instrument 22 of 2021.
Aippa was, however, repealed by section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act which was gazetted and became law in July last year.
According to Veritas, the Freedom of Information Act makes no provision for accreditation of journalists or registration of media services and news agencies, hence the regulations on gazetting fees for accreditation and registration of journalists should not remain in force.
The new accreditation fees for journalists and media houses are $600 for a new applicant, $500 for renewal and $500 for card replacement. For new mass media services, the fees will be $5 000 plus $60 000 registration fee, while existing mass media services will fork out $40 000 renewal fees plus $20 000 for late payment.
“They purport to operate retrospectively, in that they impose the new fees ‘with effect from January 1, 2021’ whereas they were published on January 22, three weeks later. Regulations cannot operate retrospectively unless the Act under which they are made expressly permits retrospective regulations to be made.
“The Freedom of Information Act does not give the Zimbabwe Media Commission power to make retrospective regulations — nor, for that matter did the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa),” it said.
However, Veritas said journalists would be wise to abide by the rules until the High Court has declared them invalid.
Veritas also said that the Public Order and Security Act was repealed, but replaced by an almost identical Maintenance of Peace and Order Act.
“Bills have been presented in Parliament to remove checks and balances on judicial appointments and to centralise power in the President. The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was amended to restrict indigenisation to diamond and platinum mining, but it has been amended again surreptitiously so as to allow the whole mining industry to be indigenised,” Veritas added.
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