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Court keeps journalists waiting

Dumisani Muleya

THE Supreme Court says it still needs more time to make a ruling on the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz)’s case against Information minister Jonatha

n Moyo over the Access to Information and Protection Privacy Act (Aippa).

In a letter to Ijaz lawyers, Supreme Court registrar Nomonde Mazabane said judgement would be delayed because judges needed more time to consider it.

“Please be advised that the determination of the issues raised in your application to a very large extent depend on the conclusion this court reaches in a previous similar case,” Mazabane said.

“The draft judgement in that previous case is complete and extensive discussions on that are currently under way among the judges. Once that judgement is complete it should not take long to conclude judgement in your matter.”

Foreign correspondents last year made an urgent application to the Supreme Court challenging Aippa. However, the court refused to hear the case as an urgent matter.

Mazabane, apparently referring to the foreign correspondents’ application, said Ijaz’s judgement would follow that case.

Ijaz, which challenged Moyo’s repressive law in November last year, has been pushing the Supreme Court for the ruling for some time.

“When an indication was given in the previous case it was on the basis that the draft in the matter was complete and consultation among judges would not take long,” Mazabane said.

“This turned out not to be the case. While your client’s desire to have speedy determination is very much appreciated the court is equally concerned that a matter of this importance be given adequate consideration.”

Sections of Aippa dealing with “abuse of journalistic privilege” and “publishing falsehoods” have been struck down by the Supreme Court because they were unconstitutional.

This followed an application by former Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota and reporter Lloyd Mudiwa who were charged under the law over a story which claimed that Zanu PF militants had beheaded an opposition Magunje woman.

The Daily News is also challenging Aippa’s mandatory registration of journalists and media houses.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, which has been conspicuous by its silence over Aippa, made a futile High Court application against requirements on registration forms for journalists which were described as intrusive.

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