THE Administrative Court judgement last Friday declaring the Media and Information Commission (MIC) improperly constituted could have a strong bearing on the outcome in two
other cases brought by media organisations. The MIC has indicated that it will apply to the Supreme Court for a reversal of the ruling which Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe had sought in an appeal against the MIC’s refusal to license the publishing house.
The court ordered the commission to register the ANZ on or before November 30, failure to do which the organisation would automatically be deemed registered.
The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz) last year filed an application chal-lenging the constitutionality of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
In the application Ijaz averred that the MIC was not properly constituted. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) last month filed an application in the High Court seeking a declarata that it was not a media organisation and should not register with the MIC.
The composition of the MIC was also challenged in that application.
Legal experts this week said the Supreme Court faced two cases, both challenging the composition and legality of the MIC.
“We will now have two applications to the same court from opposite directions apparently on the same subject,” a lawyer said.
“There is the Ijaz case saying the MIC is not properly constituted and on the other hand the MIC wants to ask the court to declare it a properly constituted body,” the lawyer said.
Another lawyer said this could see a further delay in the Ijaz case as the Supreme Court considers the new case.
The lawyer said the Administrative Court’s ruling set a good precedent for the High Court in the Misa case.
MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso yesterday said his commission would continue to operate as usual since it was appealing against the ruling.
“The MIC is properly constituted according to the Act and we have appealed to a higher court for determination,” Mahoso said.
He accused the ANZ of not being factual in its claims about the MIC.
“The ANZ was misrepresenting facts about the MIC, we are properly constituted according to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” he said.
But the court ruled the MIC “was improperly constituted in terms of the law and was accordingly unable to lawfully make the decision it made”.
The MIC under Aippa should consist of not more than seven members, three of whom must be nominated by associations of journalists and media houses.
The manner of the appointment of these three members, namely Pascal Mukondiwa, Jonathan Maphenduka and Aphinos Makoni, has raised questions which influenced the decision of the court.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Mathew Takaona in an affidavit submitted in support of Mahoso’s opposing papers in the Misa case said the three had been nominated by the union after consultation.
Takaona wrote to Informationpermanent secretary George Cha-ramba on May 16 last year recommending Mukondiwa, his former editor at the Sunday Mail. This was after Charamba had written to Takaona asking for a name. Three days later Takaona again wrote to Charamba recommending Maphenduka and Makoni.
Members of ZUJ have charged that there was no consultation prior to the selection of the three.