Scribe files urgent court application

A LOCAL journalist, Brian Hungwe, yesterday filed an urgent High Court application seeking the nullification of a one-year ban from practising journalism imposed on him last September by the Media and Information Commission.

Hungwe was banned for allegedly practising without accreditation.

In the court application, Hungwe said due process was not followed when he was suspended.

“What brings me to court is that in September 2007, the Media and Information Commission imposed a blanket ban on me from practising as a journalist,” Hungwe said in his founding affidavit supporting the urgent application. “The ban came about without there having been any compliance with the disciplinary procedures specifically set out in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Hungwe said that after numerous inquiries and long delays in the processing of his accreditation last year, he received a letter from MIC in July inviting him to attend a hearing for his accreditation.

According to Hungwe, the letter clearly stated that he was being invited for a hearing in respect of his accreditation.

However, in September Hungwe received a displinary decision banning him from practising as a journalist.

“The hearing was held on August 20 by the Commission. Surprisingly on September 18 I received a disciplinary decision banning me from practice as a journalist for a year from August 2007. I was supposedly found guilty of contravening Section 79(5) of Aippa and other sections,” said Hungwe.

After having been suspended by the MIC, Hungwe said he took up the matter with the Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, but the matter was delegated to the his deputy Bright Matongo and a principal director in the ministry.

The two reportedly advised him that the MIC would accredit him.

The MIC then wrote to Hungwe on February 27 this year advising him that the commission was not going to reverse the ban.

Earlier this week, Hungwe through his lawyers wrote to the MIC for urgent assistance, but he didn’t get a response prompting him to file the urgent court application.

Hungwe said he wants the matter treated urgently as a delay in lifting the ban could prevent him from covering the elections that are due in three weeks.

“What makes the matter urgent now is that whilst I have been able to regard the ban as void, awaiting and expecting its reversal, the 2008 harmonised elections are due shortly in just over two weeks from now.” –Lucia Makamure

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