THE Secretary for Information and Publicity, George Charamba, this week filed a notice of opposition in the Supreme Court maintaining that prominent
Harare lawyer Terrence Hussein is guilty of unethical conduct for representing a client challenging the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) which he allegedly helped to craft.
Hussein is representing Ndabenhle Mabhena who is challenging the constitutionality of some sections of the BSA.
In the court papers, Charamba said he could not produce confidential information he gave to Hussein during the crafting of the Act as that would result in the information becoming public.
“Confidential information should be treated as such or else the term will lose its meaning if such information becomes public,” Charamba said in his supporting affidavit. “Consultations with Mr Hussein were intimate and extensive. They made Hussein come in contact with the soul and thinking of government on the policy issue.”
Charamba said he had no objection if another lawyer was assigned to the case instead of Hussein.
“Information and thinking behind any policy and law is treated as privileged and therefore confidential. The point is that the respondent’s lawyer had access to confidential information through the transaction that the ministry had with him and for that reason he cannot exploit it against us. We have no objection to some other lawyer handling the matter,” explained Charamba.
Last month, former Information and Publicity minister Jonathan Moyo lodged an affidavit with the same court in which he claimed that Hussein did not receive any “protected or confidential” information from his office at the time.
“At no time during the same period did Mr Hussein receive in writing or otherwise from me or from anyone else in my office any protected or confidential information or official secret,” Moyo said in the court papers
Charamba said contrary to Moyo’s claims he was responsible for the crafting of the BSA.
“As regards Professor Moyo’s affidavit, I submit that I maintain what I stated in my main affidavit and I have no reason to lie. Furthermore, I wish to state that I together with my junior then, Betty Dimbi, we were responsible for researching and drafting the broad principles which guided the drafting of the Broadcasting Services Act. I was responsible for extrapolating from various broadcasting laws of different jurisdictions the principles which underpin the current law.” said Charamba.
Charamba said that work on the broadcasting law started in 1997.
“In fact work of this area started way back in 1997 whilst I was at Cardiff University at which I specialised in Broadcasting Media Studies among other areas.
“Contrary to Moyo’s claim, I was closely associated with the whole drafting process including holding consultative meetings with the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.”
The Supreme Court is yet to make a ruling on Charamba’s application to have Hussein recuse himself from the case between the government and Mabhena.