THE Muckraker column in your weekly, the Zimbabwe Independent for December 2, included a passage on Mr (Jonathan) Maphenduka and the Media and Information Commission which concerned an issue which is a matter of law. The passage suggested
* That Mr Maphenduka resigned from the Media and Information Commission (MIC) on August 4 2005;
* That the executive chairman of the MIC was wrongly claiming that Maphenduka had not resigned;
* That the chairman’s only reason for saying Mr Maphenduka had not resigned was that the Office of the President and Cabinet had not accepted the resignation; and
* That “only in Zimbabwe’s Orwelian information regime does a resignation become a non-resignation because its recipients find it inconvenient.”
As a matter of fact, the question whether or not statutory bodies such as the MIC observe the rule of law and administer their affairs in accordance with the rules of administrative justice and according to published procedures is a matter of national interest and public concern.
For this reason, the four claims which your Muckraker made on 2 December have got to be retracted in the public interest because they are all wrong.
In terms of Section 71, Subsection (7) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the MIC hereby notifies you of its intention to issue an order as laid down in Subsection (6) of the same section.
The order would require:
* A full retraction of the four claims; and
* Publication of a rebuttal of the same claims to be written by a person chosen by the MIC.
The two things would be done through the next issue of the Zimbabwe Independent following the issuing of such an order.
The grounds for such an order would include the following:
* That the appointment, resignation and dismissal of members of the MIC is regulated by statute, especially the Fourth Schedule (Section 40(3), paragraph 3 as read with paragraph 1, and not based on what the executive chairman or the Office of the President and Cabinet may find convenient or inconvenient on a particular day, as your Muckracker (sic) claims;
* That the very same Fourth Schedule identifies the Minister of Information and Publicity as the appointing authority to whom all resignations must be directed;
* That Mr JK Maphenduka is a public officer appointed to administer the same Act;
* That Mr JK Maphenduka’s alleged resignation letter was directed to the permanent secretary who is not the appointing authority. A clear analogy would be an application required by the law to be lodged with the Constitutional Court being lodged, instead, with the Administrative Court, just because the two are both part of the same judiciary!
Such an application would be treated as brought before the wrong court, and it would be up to the applicant to rectify the situation by first deciding which authority he or she seeks to approach. If Mr Maphenduka wants to approach the Minister of Information and Publicity, then he should do so.
To-date, he has not done so, for reasons best known to himself;
* That the Ministry of Information and Publicity is a ministry in its own right and not part of the Office of the President and Cabinet as your Muckracker (sic) claims;
* That the readers of the Zimbabwe Independent deserve to know exactly how the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides for the appointment, resignation or dismissal of commissioners. Muckracker’s (sic) gross disinformation is not acceptable no matter how self-righteously put; and
* That this complaint to you is only one of many which have been made against your paper in the last two years in which you have chosen to ignore that clear provision of Sections 86, 87, 88 and 89 of the same Act.
In terms of Section 71, Subsection (7), (c) you are invited to reply to these allegations within seven days of this notice to demonstrate why the MIC should not proceed to issue an order (after a hearing) compelling the Zimbabwe Independent to publish a retraction and a rebuttal of Muckracker’s (sic) claims.
Tafataona P Mahoso,